Questions: Archbishop Philip Wilson trial on hold after pacemaker surgery and questions about his ‘fitness’ to give evidence. THE trial of Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson is on hold after a Newcastle Local Court was told he is “not in a fit state to give evidence at the moment” after pacemaker surgery five days ago and questions about his cognitive abilities.
Magistrate Caleb Franklinwill hear evidence on Tuesday afternoon from an Adelaide neurologist after the court was toldthe archbishop was placed on medication after concerns about his mental capacities.
Barrister Stephen Odgers for Archbishop Wilson, 67, told the court the neurologist advised the “best case” was the medication could take three to six months to be effective, but there was the possibility it would not be effective.
Archbishop Wilson –the most senior Catholic clergyman in the world charged with failing to report child sex allegations to police –has not attended any court appearances since he was charged with the offence in March, 2015, and pleaded not guilty.
The local court hearing, after three failed attempts by the archbishop to have the charge dismissed, would not go ahead without the archbishop in attendance, the court was told.
Archbishop Wilson’s legal team applied to have the hearing delayed until at least Thursday, to give the senior cleric seven days after pacemaker surgery last week to treat a heart condition, and to have the trial proceed without requiring the archbishop to give evidence.
Mr Odgers told the court the neurologist’s assessment that Archbishop Wilson’s cognitive capacity was impaired raised concerns about whether the senior cleric could instruct his legal team during the trial that was set down for two weeks.
The Crown told the court it would require a separate assessment of the archbishop if the Adelaide neurologist tells the court the senior cleric is unfit to give evidence and instruct his lawyers.
Mr Franklinsaid it was likely, under that scenario, that the trial would be held over until a later date.
“We’re in a state where noone can really say what’s going to happen. Even the experts are going to be saying, in all likelihood, there’s a need for further investigations,” Mr Franklinsaid.
The court heard the Crown will call 16 witnesses and the defence up to four.