Archbishop Philip Wilson: the case, the trial and the verdict

ADELAIDE Archbishop Philip Edward Wilson is the main story across national news headlines on Tuesday.

For those who have not followed the trial, here is a rundown of everything you need to know:

WHO?

Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson, 67, is the most senior Catholic official in the world to be convicted of covering up child sex abuse.

WHAT?

Wilson was accused of failing to report to police the repeated abuse of altar boy Peter Creigh by pedophile priest James Fletcher in the NSW Hunter region in the 1970s.

Fletcher was found guilty in December 2004 of nine counts of child sexual abuse.

Mr Creigh, expected Wilson - an assistant priest at the time - to take action after he told him Fletcher repeatedly abused him when he was 10 in 1971.

A second victim, who cannot be named, said he was about 11 in 1976 when he went into a confessional box to tell Wilson how Fletcher had abused him.

THE TRIAL

Magistrate Robert Stone presided over the hearing in Newcastle Local Court.

Wilson, who is suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, said he could not remember Mr Creigh telling him about the abuse in 1976.

Prosecutor Gareth Harrison claimed Wilson had maintained a "cover-up attitude" since 1976 to protect the church's reputation.

Defence barrister Stephen Odgers SC argued Wilson was not guilty because the case was circumstantial and there was no evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the archbishop was told about the abuse.

THE VERDICT

The magistrate found Wilson guilty on May 22 of concealing child sex abuse between 2004 and 2006, after Fletcher had been charged with other unrelated child sexual abuse offences and before he died in jail. 

SENTENCING SUBMISSIONS

Prosecutor Gareth Harrison argued Wilson must be jailed to deter other institutional cover-ups, to denounce the conduct and to recognise the harm done to the victims.

Defence barrister Ian Temby QC said Wilson may not survive being jailed, which would likely worsen his many chronic illnesses and put him at risk of violence from fellow inmates.

SENTENCING

Wilson was sentenced on July 3 to 12 months imprisonment with a non-parole period of six months.

But, if deemed suitable, he will serve his sentence via home detention, rather than jail. 

The matter was adjourned to August 14 to see if Wilson has been deemed suitable.

Australian Associated Press & Fairfax Media

HOW IT HAPPENED