A former Vatican treasurer, Cardinal George Pell, has been sentenced to six years in prison for a string of sexual assaults on teenagers.

Cardinal Pell was found guilty of sexually abusing 13-year-old choir boys 22 years ago in the priests’ sacristy of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, where he was archbishop at the time.

He was convicted of abusing two boys whom he had caught drinking sacramental wine in a rear room of the cathedral in late 1996, as hundreds of worshippers were streaming out of Sunday services.

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He was also found guilty of assaulting one of the boys in a corridor more than a month later.

He was actually convicted of five offences in December last year, but details of the verdicts were kept secret for fear they would prejudice a second trial he was facing. Those charges have now been dropped.

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His convictions were revealed in February.

Sentencing him, Justice Peter Kidd said some of the offences had a “nasty element” and particularly drew on the fact that the victims were abused in front of each other.