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

Accused child stealers want GPS trackers removed

TWO men accused of running a child abduction ring have had their second attempt to have GPS monitors removed refused.

Grafton men Dr William Russell Massingham Pridgeon and Patrick Finbar McGarry O'Dea appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Thursday, arguing their bail should be altered to remove tracking devices.

Dr Pridgeon and Mr O'Dea have been accused of masterminding a complicated network that helped parents steal a child from another parent in the face of Family Court orders.

They are facing charges including conspiracy to defeat justice, child stealing and stalking.

The pair's lawyer Andrew Owens told the court new GPS monitor models were very bulky and had such poor battery life that they required daily charging for hours at a time.

Mr Owens told the court neither Mr O'Dea nor Dr Pridgeon denied being part of a network that helped hide and move children. But he said they disputed they were part of a conspiracy to breach Family Court orders.

The two claim they were helping move abused children who the courts had failed to protect.

But Crown prosecutor Dearne Firth pointed to a letter Dr Pridgeon allegedly wrote stating he was "acutely aware" he was breaking the law.

Ms Firth told the court about eight terabytes of data had been seized from computers from the two men and their eight co-accused across the country.

The prosecution has alleged Dr Pridgeon and Mr O'Dea helped a parent and a grandparent secretly take children from parents they claimed were abusive.

The two men are accused of helping find cars and accommodation and even planning on using Dr Pridgeon's yacht to get the kids out of Australia.

Dr Pridgeon has maintained the yacht was for his own use. The court on Thursday heard he has now sold the yacht.

Ms Firth said the two were part of a "large network" that had no issues breaching court orders. She said the court could not be satisfied they would not breach bail if the tracking devices were removed.

The application was refused. The matter will be mentioned in Brisbane again in May. -NewsRegional



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