GP in alleged child abduction ring is living off ‘charity’
A GRAFTON doctor accused of financially backing a child abduction ring has claimed he is broke and living off "the charity of others" while he fights the charges.
William Russell Pridgeon is accused of being part of a network that helped mothers snatch their children they claimed were being sexually abused by their fathers.
Dr Pridgeon and six of his co-accused fronted Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday ahead of their committal hearing in April.
The self-represented GP told the court he had been refused Legal Aid and had no prospect of getting a lawyer.
"I don't have the resources," Dr Pridgeon said.
"There has been a concerted strategy against me to drain and exhaust my resources. While I started out in a reasonable position, I now depend for my board and lodging on the charity of others."
Dr Pridgeon also requested he face a separate committal hearing.
The hearing will determine if there is enough evidence for the alleged ring to face trial in a higher court.
"We have the largest brief in Australian legal history, which is basically being co-mingled," he said.
"So none of us have the resources to get our legal representatives to trawl through that vast amount of information.
"Which means, Your Honour, that we are actually susceptible to the prosecution just ambushing us with stuff we haven't been able to find."
Co-accused Kathleen Ann Greer, who is charged with conspired defeat justice, also asked for the committal hearing to be split.
"I don't even know half of the people they are saying are co-accused," Ms Greer said.
The alleged network members were arrested in Dubbo, Grafton, Townsville and Perth following a two-year police investigation.
Dr Pridgeon and another Grafton man, Patrick O'Dea, were charged with conspiracy to defeat justice and child stealing.
Mr O'Dea is also accused of stalking the father of one of the children he allegedly abducted by driving 300km to "stake out" his Brisbane home.
Patricia Ann Plaisted is charged with two child stealing offences, Joyce Evelyn Fazldeen is charged with child stealing and conspiring to defeat justice, and Ariel Josephine Johnson is charged with conspiring to defeat justice.
Catherine Lee Doubleday is charged with two counts of conspired defeat justice and child stealing.
The committal hearing is expected to take up to four days and will begin on April 20.