A New South Wales doctor accused of financing an abduction ring that helped mothers take and hide their children in violation of family court orders says the truth will come out and he will be the one to expose it.
William Russell Massingham Pridgeon, a 64-year-old Grafton doctor, is among those charged over their roles in a network that eluded authorities for a decade.
He appeared in Brisbane magistrates court on Friday alongside co-accused Patrick O’Dea, Joyce Evelyn Fazldeen and Ariel Josephine Johnson.
Patricia Ann Plaistead, a West Australian woman, remains at large.
Federal police allege Pridgeon, founder of the Australian Anti-Paedophile party, was the main financial backer and planner behind efforts to help two women take their children, contrary to family law orders.
Magistrate Annette Hennessy relaxed his and O’Dea’s bail conditions so that they could access social media, travel from NSW to Queensland to meet certain people and report to police three days a week instead of daily.
Outside court, Pridgeon thanked police for their courtesy and kindness.
“I’m looking very forward to the truth of this matter coming out because the crimes involved here are horrendous, OK, and the crimes have been covered up by many people who shouldn’t have,” Pridgeon told reporters.
“I’m looking forward to exposing that and I intend to.”
He is disputing two counts of conspiracy to defeat justice and dealing in the proceeds of crime to the value $100,000, along with two counts of child stealing and unlawful stalking.
He also owns a yacht in Perth that police allege was going to be used to smuggle kidnapped children from Western Australia to Tasmania and then on to New Zealand.
Lawyer Andrew Owens, who also represents O’Dea, said the accused were merely a bunch of like-minded people wanting to make things right.
“They’ve got to bide their time and have their day in court but it will come out eventually, the situation, and not what has been portrayed,” he told reporters outside court.
“In terms of ringleaders … the fact that they are at the top of this syndicate is just, at some point, laughable.”
The group were allegedly helped over the years by supporters who provided food, money, accommodation and transport during the alleged abductions.
O’Dea, a permanent resident who migrated from South Africa 12 years ago, is accused of being a co-organiser, and allegedly trying to smear the fathers of the children as child abusers online.
He is contesting two counts of child stealing, unlawful stalking, two counts of conspiracy to defeat justice, using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence, and publishing an account of proceedings.
Fazldeen has been charged with child stealing and conspiracy to defeat justice, while Johnson and Plaistead are facing conspiracy to defeat justice charges.
All five matters have been adjourned until 5 April.