Player in child abduction ring let off the hook
A Townsville grandfather who helped fund crimes related to a national child abduction ring has been let off the hook, with the father of some children involved in the ring saying it had caused his family "great distress".
Arthur Doubleday, 84, was released from Townsville Magistrates Court on good behaviour today, after he pleaded guilty to dealing with proceeds of crime over $1000.
The man, who was arrested in 2018 with three other people allegedly involved in the ring, transferred six payments of $250 to a person to operate a website that published illegal information about missing children and family members.
He transferred the money over the six months from March 23, 2018, to September 24, 2018, and was fully aware of the criminal activity he was funding.
The two-year operation to catch the alleged offenders, dubbed Operation Noetic, came to a head almost two years ago when police arrested Doubleday, along with Patrick O'Dea, William Russell Massingham Pridgeon and a 74-year-old Perth woman.
Mr Pridgeon, a doctor, founded the Australian Anti-Paedophile Party and allegedly evaded police for a decade while the group helped mothers kidnap their children.
Federal police allege Dr Pridgeon was the main financial backer and planner behind efforts to help two mothers abduct their children, contrary to family law orders.
They are scheduled to appear before Brisbane Magistrate's Court next month for a committal hearing.
Doubleday's involvement, while a minor part of a large operation, was deemed serious by Acting Magistrate Scott Luxton.
A victim impact statement tendered to the court by the father of two victims told of the ongoing emotional and psychological distress he, and the children, suffer.
The father, who cannot be named to protect his children, spoke to the Townsville Bulletin after the proceedings, saying the punishment did not fit the crime.
He said his children were stripped of a normal life after they were allegedly taken by their mother for many years.
"This has caused ongoing difficulties for them in adapting to mainstream society, such as schooling, socialisation and relationship building, and trust in authorities," he said.
Mr Luxton said there was no doubt about the distress caused to the family.
"It's difficult to attribute how much more distress the persons who were already effected were further effected by the offending," Mr Luxton said.
"(It shows) a lack of regard for the court and has exposed a number of persons, including family, to having their personal matters exposed in a public forum."
Mr Luxton sentenced Doubleday to a 18-month good behaviour bond under a recognisance of $2000.
Australian Federal Police Commander Crime Paul Osborne, said the men sentenced committed serious criminal offences, intent on undermining the judicial system.
"Laws such as these are designed to safeguard the integrity of our judicial system and to protect those vulnerable people who are involved in proceedings before the Courts, including the Family Court of Australia," he said.
"The AFP will not hesitate to act on criminal offences that ultimately deprive children of the opportunity to lead a normal life, regardless of their particular family situation."
Originally published as Player in child abduction ring let off the hook