William Pridgeon at Brisbane Magistrates Court. Picture: Annette Dew
William Pridgeon at Brisbane Magistrates Court. Picture: Annette Dew

Charge dropped against doctor accused of child stealing ring

A NSW doctor who is charged over his alleged role in an underground child stealing conspiracy will no longer face a stalking charge.

Grafton doctor William Russell Massingham Pridgeon, founder of an anti-paedophile party, is alleged to have been the main financial backer behind the alleged abduction ring.

The network is accused of assisting mothers who snatched their children and claimed they were being sexually abused by their fathers. Police say the allegations were baseless.

The AFP alleges adults involved in the syndicate communicated using encrypted messaging applications and the children were hidden, had their hair dyed, were given new names and new birthdays.

Arrests were made after raids in Dubbo and Grafton, in NSW, Townsville and Perth, after a two-year police investigation.

A Commonwealth prosecutor today told Brisbane Magistrates Court there was a very large brief of evidence and "thousands and thousands" of documents and the case was quite complex.

Pridgeon and six others will face a three-day committal hearing in Brisbane Magistrates Court from October 8.

Pridgeon is facing three child stealing charges, conspiracy to defeat justice and dealing with proceeds of crime over $100,00.

Brisbane Magistrate Jacqui Payne today dismissed a stalking charge against him.

While on bail Pridgeon has had to wear an electronic tracking device.