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This Is What Pell's Life Inside Prison Will Be Like

Visibly affected by his first two weeks behind bars, George Pell has returned to prison knowing he could be there for the rest of his life.

Jailed for a maximum six years by County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd on Wednesday, the disgraced cardinal will be 80 when his minimum non-parole period expires in three years and eight months.

Any chance of freedom before then will be pinned to his appeal application, to be heard in Victoria's Court of Appeal in June.

A bail application was foreshadowed when his conviction for sexually abusing two choirboys at St Patrick's Cathedral in East Melbourne in 1996 became public.

Pell sat emotionless and looking visibly thinner through more than an hour-long sentence hearing where the judge noted he would spend a "substantial portion" of his remaining life expectancy behind bars.

"I am conscious that a term of imprisonment ... carries with it a real, as distinct from theoretical, possibility that you may not live to be released from prison," he said.

He pointed to the brazenness of Pell's offending from a position of power and authority as the newly-installed Archbishop of Melbourne.

"Your obvious status as Archbishop cast a powerful shadow over this offending," he said.

Pell hadn't delivered threats to secure the boys' silence, clearly feeling he didn't need to, the judge said.

"In my view, your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance."

Pell, who was until late-February the Vatican's treasurer, is the most senior member of the Catholic Church to be jailed for child sexual abuse.

Former prime minister John Howard was one of 10 people who provided character references that spoke of Pell's life dedicated to service.

"Self-evidently you have experienced an exceptional career with the Catholic Church. You are clearly an intelligent and hard-working man," Judge Kidd said.

His life behind bars will be more difficult with concerns over his safety given his notoriety and high profile, the judge noted.

With AAP 

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