Dr William Russell Massingham Pridgeon, centre, outside Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday.
Dr William Russell Massingham Pridgeon, centre, outside Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday. Annette Dew

Alleged child-stealing ringleaders must still wear trackers

TWO men accused of masterminding an alleged underground child-stealing ring have failed in their attempt to no longer have to wear GPS trackers.

Dr William Russell Massingham Pridgeon and Patrick Finbar McGarry O'Dea, both from Grafton, appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday to attempt to alter certain bail conditions.

The men wanted to be able to access the internet and social media, have joint phone conferences with a lawyer, access to some people they had been banned from contacting and no longer have to wear GPS monitors. Dr Pridgeon also applied to get firearms he owned back from police.

Dr Pridgeon and Mr O'Dea are accused of running an elaborate child-snatching ring that assisted mothers take children from their fathers and claimed the men were sexually abusing the children. Police state those allegations were baseless.

Police allege Mr O'Dea drove the women across the country and portrayed the fathers as child abusers on social media and public forums.

Dr Pridgeon is accused of being the mastermind of the ring and encouraged Mr O'Dea's alleged actions.

The court heard the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency had suspended Dr Pridgeon's medical licence. The court heard he was now working as a gardener. The two are relying on crowdfunding for legal fees.

In court, their lawyer Andrew Owens said the GPS tracker was painful and restricted Dr Pridgeon's current manual work.

Mr Owens said the two men had been vocal in calling for changes to the court system. He compared helping women and children in need to running a red light in order to escape someone with a gun.

Mr Owens said a yacht Dr Pridgeon owned had nothing to do with the alleged ring despite Australian Federal Police allegations it may have been used to help children escape Australian jurisdiction.

Their bail conditions were changed to allow them easier access to family living in Queensland and reduced the number of times per week they had to report to police. The pair was also allowed to access social media on the condition they did not comment or post.

But the attempt to get GPS trackers removed was not successful, nor was Dr Pridgeon's application to get access to his guns.

The matter will return to court in April next year.

- NewsRegional