Details about an alleged child-stealing network that helped two women abduct their children have been heard in a Brisbane court.
- The prosecution alleged William Pridgeon and Patrick O’Dea were the “central persons” in the network
- The court heard the network helped a mother abduct her twin girls and flee interstate
- Dr Pridgeon and Mr O’Dea allegedly set up a website and social media accounts breaching the Family Law Act
Seven people have been charged in relation to the alleged syndicate, including William Russell Massingham Pridgeon, 67, and Patrick Finbar McGarry O’Dea, 65, who are facing several charges including child stealing and conspiring to defeat justice.
Dr Pridgeon was arrested in 2018 after being accused of financing the syndicate, which allegedly helped mothers who feared the children were being sexually abused by their fathers.
At a committal hearing in the Brisbane Magistrates Court, crown prosecutor Lincoln Crowley alleged Dr Pridgeon and Mr O’Dea were the “central persons involved” in the network.
Mr Crowley told the court the network helped a mother abducted her twin girls — who were under a Family Law Court order — from a school in Townsville in April, 2014.
He said the trio allegedly travelled out of Queensland through Western Australia and then to northern New South Wales to live for four years until they were found by authorities in May, 2018.
The prosecution alleged it was during this time that Mr O’Dea and Dr Pridgeon set up a website and social media accounts about the twins where information was published that breached the Family Law Act.
Mr Crowley said it was also during that time another woman became aware of the network.
She allegedly engaged with the group to help abduct her grandson from Townsville and take him to NSW via Brisbane in 2018.
He told the court Joyce Evelyn Fazldeen — who is charged with child stealing and conspiring to defeat justice — helped keep the woman and her grandson hidden from the boy’s father for two weeks.
Mr Crowley said the woman and child were intercepted by authorities in NSW in May, 2018 as they were trying to get onto a train.
‘No idea this boy had been taken’
Defence barrister Alex Nelson, who represented Ms Fazldeen, said his client had no knowledge that the boy had been taken or that a Family Court order had been breached.
“There is an allegation of a conspiracy, in the big scheme of which it’s said this boy was forcibly or fraudulently taken away from the father in Townsville and was to be spirited off to Western Australia — and that a number of people, including my client, were a party to that conspiracy,” Mr Nelson said.
“The evidence, in my submission, was that my client was not a party to that agreement.
“In fact, she had no idea this boy had been taken … and was subject to Federal Circuit Court orders.”
The committal hearing will continue on Tuesday.
Magistrate Anthony Gett indicated he would deliver a decision on October 23 as to whether the matter will be committed to trial.