Nathan Baggaley: Olympic medallist found guilty of £110m cocaine smuggling plot

·3-min read
Nathan Baggaley won two silver medals at the 2004 Olympics. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
Nathan Baggaley won two silver medals at the 2004 Olympics. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

A two-time Olympic silver medallist canoeist and his brother have been found guilty of plotting to smuggle £110m worth of cocaine into Australia.

Nathan Baggaley, who won two silver medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics, and his brother, Dru Baggaley, were charged with attempting to import 650kg of cocaine in 2018.

The Australian brothers, who both denied the charges, were found guilty on Thursday after eight hours of deliberations at Brisbane Supreme Court.

Dru, 39, and another man, Anthony Draper, were arrested off the Queensland coast after a dramatic police chase involving the navy and air force.

Nathan, 45, purchased the speedboat used in the incident and was arrested 10 months later, with prosecutors saying he was planning to meet the pair at a boat ramp to store the drugs.

Dru and Draper made an 11-hour journey in June 2018 to meet up with a foreign ship that was carrying the drugs.

But they were spotted by surveillance planes, prompting a navy ship to follow them.

Footage shows Dru throwing packages of cocaine overboard as Draper tried to get away from the ship.

They were then arrested by armed officers on a police boat.

Dru said he thought he was collecting tobacco and claims Draper kidnapped him and made him go on the trip otherwise he would hurt his family.

However, Draper said he was recruited by Dru to drive the boat and claims he was told they were picking up "smoko" which he thought was marijuana.

Draper pleaded guilty to importing cocaine earlier this year and had his sentence reduced for testifying against the brothers.

Nathan told the court he bought the boat with money given to him by Dru and fitted it with a satellite phone and navigation system because he was told it would be used to start a whale-watching business.

His fingerprints were found on tape used to conceal the boat's registration number.

Nathan is also a three-time world canoe champion but his career has been tarnished by drug scandals.

He tested positive for banned steroids in 2005 after he claimed he drank his brother's orange juice without realising it was laced with the steroid.

In 2007 he was found with 762 ecstasy tablets, cannabis and cash in his car then was jailed after facing more drug charges of manufacturing and dealing ecstasy that year. He also stole a surf ski.

Two years later he admitted to manufacturing more than 1,500 MDMA tablets and supplying a prohibited drug for which he was jailed for nine years.

In 2010 he had another jail sentence added after being found with steroids in prison.

In 2013, he was charged with various counts of conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of banned drugs into Australia as well as manufacturing and producing prohibited drugs for which he was jailed.

The Baggaley brothers will be sentenced at a date not yet decided.