Disgraced Cardinal George Pell is one day closer to knowing his fate, but he still has to cross a major hurdle before release from prison even becomes an option.
After a full day of arguments, his specialist appeals barrister Bret Walker SC is yet to convince the High Court's full bench of seven judges that Pell's case is deserving of a final chance at appeal.
That means they could drop the case at any time, without deciding one way or another.
"We're not here to prove anything ... except to show, to demonstrate, that there was unexplored possibilities that meant it was not open to the jury to convict," Mr Walker told the court on Wednesday.
It was a case worthy of their consideration, he said.
The hearing is scheduled to run for two days and he wrapped up his arguments with a minute to spare before the end of day one.
He spent hours breaking down the case, facing tough questions from Australia's top legal minds, while arguing for Pell to be immediately released from prison and that his five convictions for sexually abusing two choirboys at St Patrick's Cathedral in the 1990s be quashed.
Pell is one year into a six-year sentence handed down last year for offending almost immediately after his appointment as Archbishop of Melbourne.
The 78-year-old has maintained his innocence despite being convicted by a jury in 2018 of raping one 13-year-old choirboy and the sexual assault of another. The first victim gave evidence against Pell; the second died in 2014.
The trial focused primarily on five or six minutes after a Sunday Mass in December 1996 when the boys were were "caught" by Pell sneaking sacramental wine in the priest's sacristy.
A jury found he had molested one of the boys then raped the other, and that weeks later he molested the second boy again in a corridor. That boy gave evidence against him at trial.
But Mr Walker methodically broke down the reasons why the jury and appeal court majority were wrong in accepting the surviving complainant's evidence over the evidence of others.
"At both trials ... the evidence of the complainant was the only evidence to the effect that the offending had occurred," he said.
He said the complainant's evidence couldn't stand if that of Sacristan Max Potter and Monsignor Charles Portelli - which included that Pell was never alone after Mass - was accepted.
"At no stage was there an invitation to regard them as insincere or lying or favouring loyalty over truth," he said.
He also challenged the finding of the appeal majority that the offending could have occurred during a period of quiet prayer after mass, and before the sacristy became a "hive of activity".
It was "impossible" for it to have happened then, because that prayer time started at the same time as the processional, which included both choirboys and Pell.
The appeal bid is based on two grounds - firstly that Chief Justice Ann Ferguson and President Chris Maxwell made an error in requiring Pell to prove the offending was "impossible" in order to raise reasonable doubt.
Secondly, his lawyers have argued the judges erred in concluding the guilty verdicts were not unreasonable, because of findings there was reasonable doubt as to his guilt.
Victoria's Chief Crown Prosecutor Kerri Judd QC will present her arguments to the full bench on Thursday.
In written submissions she accused Pell's lawyers of giving an "incomplete and inaccurate picture of the facts" and of glossing over evidence that supported the surviving choirboy.
Australian Associated Press