A Maronite priest jailed for indecently assaulting a teenage boy has had his conviction quashed on appeal.
The Sydney clergyman, 41, was found guilty in 2016 of assaulting the then 15-year-old boy and sentenced to at least 12 months in jail.
His barrister, Phillip Boulton SC, told the Court of Criminal Appeal on Wednesday the trial judge misdirected the jury and there were problems with the reliability of the complainant and his evidence.
The trial heard that in 2005 the priest was a deacon at the tight-knit church and a close friend of the complainant's family.
After a church celebration one night, the complainant's mother asked the then 29-year-old priest to give her son a lift home.
Early the next morning the complainant fell asleep in the priest's passenger seat and awoke to find the priest rubbing his genitals, the trial was told.
On Wednesday Mr Boulton said 10 years had passed between the alleged offence and the trial, and the priest "didn't have any witness that could knock this out of the park".
He also said there were "problems with the complainant's recollection about important events".
The lawyer disputed the complainant's evidence that the alleged assault was a "watershed moment in his life" that caused him to walk away from the church.
A video of the priest's 2006 ordination at the packed church shows the complainant "vigorously applauding" and later being blessed by the man, Mr Boulton said.
Years later the complainant also went to confession with the accused, he said.
The crown said the complainant was an altar boy whose friends and family were also connected with the church.
"Children, victims of abuse, don't often behave in a rational way," crown barrister Huw Baker said.
But Justices Cliff Hoeben, David Davies and Geoffrey Bellew allowed the appeal on Wednesday and quashed the priest's conviction, saying he was acquitted and to be released immediately.
Supporters of the priest hugged and cried in court.
"This is what faith is," one woman said.
"Finally, justice," another said.
The court will deliver its reasons at a later date.