COA cites lack of jurisdiction on bid to stay defeat justice charges

The Queensland Court of Appeal (COA) has tossed out an appeal by a medical practitioner seeking to have charges of conspiracy to defeat justice charges stayed before trial – saying it has no jurisdiction to consider the matter.

New South Wales general practitioner William Russell Pridgeon recently appeared in the COA in Brisbane seeking leave to appeal a District Court judge’s decision to refuse his application for charges against him to be quashed or permanently stayed.

Dr Pridgeon, then a GP from Grafton in northern NSW, was one of a number of people charged by Australian Federal Police in 2018 over the alleged abduction of children they suspected were being abused by a parent.

In February last year, Queensland Deputy Chief Magistrate Anthony Gett found there was a prima facie case – or sufficient evidence to corroborate allegations – to commit Dr Pridgeon for trial in the District Court.

Dr Pridgeon, and co-accused Ann Kathleen Greer, in December last year applied to the District Court for their charges to be stayed, but the application was refused by Judge Leanne Clare SC.

COA President Debra Mullins AO, in a decision published yesterday, struck out the pair’s attempt to review Judge Clare’s decision due to a “lack of jurisdiction”.


During a hearing before Justice Mullins on 27 October, Dr Pridgeon and Ms Greer sought leave to overturn Judge Clare’s ruling and order the indictment against them “be quashed or permanent stay be granted”.

“Dr Pridgeon is charged with two counts of conspiracy to defeat justice on District Court indictment,” Justice Mullins said in her ex tempore ruling. “Ms Greer is a co-defendant in respect of the second of those counts.

“Both Dr Pridgeon and Ms Greer applied for a permanent stay of the indictment. Her Honour Judge Clare SC refused those applications on 10 December 2021.

“Dr Pridgeon and Ms Greer filed an application in this Court for leave to appeal against Judge Clare’s decision and for orders that either the indictment be quashed or a permanent stay be granted.”

Justice Mullins said that both before and after the filing of their application, the court’s registrar informed Dr Pridgeon and Ms Greer that a ruling pursuant to s590AA of the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) could only be raised as a ground of appeal against conviction or sentence and must not be subject to interlocutory appeal.

“The Registrar invited Dr Pridgeon and Ms Greer to abandon their application, but they wish to argue that s590AA(4) does not apply in their case, as the intention of the provision is to prevent a trial from being delayed and in their case no trial date has been set,” she said.


“Their application is before the Court today so they can show-cause why the application should not be struck out for lack of jurisdiction.

“It is not appropriate for me to summarise the detailed submissions that Dr Pridgeon and Ms Greer put before the Court for the purpose of this show cause hearing, as those submissions are not relevant to the question of jurisdiction.

“The simple response to their persistence in wishing to maintain their application in the Court of Appeal is that this Court has no jurisdiction to hear an appeal against an interlocutory order refusing to stay the indictment.

“The order of the Court is: Application for leave to appeal struck out for lack of

A trial is expected to proceed on a date to be scheduled.

Read the decision.

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