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Possible appeal against Sydney priest's lenient sentence

The NSW Government was last night seeking advice on whether to appeal a judge's decision to impose a four-second custodial sentence on a sex offender.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Attorney General Bob Debus yesterday asked for a report from the Director of Public Prosecutions Nick Cowdrey, QC, to determine if there were grounds for appeal.

Fr Terence Goodall pleaded guilty to one charge of indecent assault against a man who was 29 years old at the time. On Tuesday, he was sentenced by Judge Philip Bell in the District Court under a law known as the "rising of the court", which is usually reserved for minor or petty cases.

"The Attorney General has already asked the DPP to review the case and advise him of the prospects of the success of an appeal," a spokesman for Mr Debus said.

It is expected that the DPP will return with advice to Mr Debus as early as next week.

The victim met Goodall as a parishioner. His claim - one that Goodall later admitted to - was that the priest fondled him in a pool at Cronulla and later at the presbytery.

Chair of the Law Society of NSW's criminal law committee Pauline Wright said a "rising of the court" sentence was often used by a judge or magistrate if they felt the accused had been punished enough.

"Every week some judge in some court in Sydney would use 'a rising of the court' to sentence," Ms Wright said. "It is meant to be taken as a serious warning. It is still a custodial penalty but a very short one in this case."

Debus waits for DPP's report (Daily Telegraph 27/1/05)

Goodall case causing more embarrassment to Church (CathNews 21/1/05)

Shortest possible sentence for priest convicted of indecent assault (Sydney Morning Herald 26/1/05)
Priest conviction for sex abuse (Daily Telegraph/AAP 25/1/05)
Philippines Catholic church to expel priests for sexual misconduct: report (Yahoo/AFP 26/1/05)
Legionaries' new leader promises orderly transition (Catholic World News 26/1/05)
Catholic order head quits as abuse probe to open (Reuters 25/1/05)

27 Jan 2005