The Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE - GE­OFF EGAN Ge­[email protected]­re­gional­me­ – NewsRe­gional

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

Wil­liam Rus­sell Mass­ing­ham Prid­geon and Pa­trick Fin­bar McGarry O’Dea, both from Grafton, ap­peared in Bris­bane Mag­is­trates Court yes­ter­day 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, have 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 helped 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.

The court was told the Aus­tralian Health Prac­ti­tioner Reg­u­la­tion Agency had sus­pended Dr Prid­geon’s med­i­cal li­cence and he was now work­ing as a gar­dener.

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.

He 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.

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.

Photo: An­nette Dew

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

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