Two men allegedly involved in an abduction ring that helped mothers kidnap their children, with plans to smuggle them overseas, have been released on bail from a Brisbane court.
Patrick O’Dea, 63, and William Russell Massingham Pridgeon, a 64-year-old Grafton doctor who founded the n Anti-Paedophile Party, are among those charged for their alleged role in a network that evaded detection for a decade.
The men were extradited from NSW on Friday to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court over accusations they helped parents abduct and disguise their children, sometimes for years.
Federal police allege Pridgeon was the main financial backer and planner behind efforts to help two mothers abduct their children, contrary to family law orders.
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.
Pridgeon, who has ties to South Africa and New Zealand, was slumped in the dock with his eyes closed for much of the hearing.
He owns a yacht in Perth that police believe was going to be used to smuggle kidnapped children from Western to Tasmania and then on to New Zealand.
But his lawyer Andrew Owens told the court intentions for the vessel remain unclear.
“He is 64, he is wanting to retire shortly and that was going to be a venture for him,” Mr Owens said.
O’Dea, a permanent resident who migrated from South Africa 12 years ago, is accused of being a co-organiser, and allegedly attempted to portray 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.
The network relied on the help of supporters to provide food, money, accommodation and transport during the abductions, and used an internal cash economy and encrypted messaging apps.
Both men have been released on bail and are due to next appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on December 7.
On Thursday, police said they had charged three men and a woman over the ring which helped parents abduct their own children across in contravention of family law orders.
Arthur Ernest Doublebay, 83, of Rasmussen, appeared in Townsville Local Court on Thursday, where he was granted bail.
Doubleday was charged with two counts with dealing in the proceeds of crime and one of aiding and abetting the publication of an account of proceedings.
He will reappear the same court on December 20 for a committal hearing.
A 78-year-old Perth woman has been served with a court attendance notice for December.
On Thursday, detectives said the two-year investigation – dubbed Operation Noetic – was still ongoing and there could be more arrests to come.