Skipper in $200m coke case feared pirates
The skipper of the boat used in a bid to smuggle $200m worth of cocaine into Australia has told a jury he was "shi--ing himself" and thought he was about to be robbed by pirates when a Navy patrol boat began chasing him as he carried the drugs back to shore.
Anthony Trevor Draper, 56, a former fisherman from Sydney, told the Supreme Court trial of former Olympic kayaker Nathan Baggaley, 45, and his brother fishmonger Dru Anthony Baggaley, 39, that about two hours after he picked up dozens of heavy packages alleged to contain cocaine from men with guns on a "big red boat" up to 360km out to sea he was confronted with a "border patrol boat".
"I was sh--ing myself...I thought we were going to get robbed, I thought they were pirates," he said of the Navy patrol boat Cape Fourcroy which attempted to intercept them as they sped back to shore.
"I am an Australian defence vessel, I intend to board you, you are to stop or heave to," then-Naval officer Gideon Watkin announced over the marine radio, he told the jury in earlier evidence.
Mr Watkin said he told the RHIB a second time over the radio and a loudhailer that if they did not stop he would be forced to fire warning shots in front of their bow.
Mr Draper told the jury today he asked Dru Baggaley "What should we do" and he told him to "just keep driving, just keep going back to Brunswick Heads".
Mr Draper, who told the jury he had come in to give evidence from prison, said as the navy ship was "right behind us, we just started throwing the packages overboard".
Dru and his older brother Nathan have pleaded not guilty to attempting to import a commercial quantity of cocaine into Australia in Coolangatta and elsewhere between December 16, 2017 and August 2, 2018.
Prosecutors allege Nathan had a "key role" in aiding Dru's attempted cocaine importation by buying the powerful $106,700 boat, a $7000 navigation system and a satellite phone, and was waiting at Brunswick Heads boat ramp in northern NSW ready to receive the drugs on their return to shore.
Mr Draper told the jury this morning that two hours before the pursuit by the navy ship, he and Dru had met up with a red boat at sea and gun-toting men of South American or "Latin" appearance threw black packages into the ocean, telling Draper they contained "cacao" when he told the men "no more pot" because there were too many packages for their small 7m Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB).
"They were yelling out 'It is not pot'," Mr Draper said of the South American men.
Mr Draper told the jury that the ship left and he tried to confront Dru Baggaley about the packages believing they were going to pick up marijuana, but Dru told him get back to collecting the packages from the water.
"I said: 'What is this? It's heavy', he said 'Don't worry about it, just keep loading it in the boat".
"I said: 'Is it cocoa, what's that cocaine?" Mr Draper said he told Dru.
"He said: 'Just help me put it on the boat'".
The pair had spent up to eleven hours motoring eastwards on a moonlit night from Brunswick Heads boat ramp to meet the red ship at about 9.30am on the morning of July 31.
They followed coordinates set on their satellite navigation plotter and as they motored out he and Dru chatted about "whales and the full moon", Mr Draper told the jury.
The hearing continues today before Justice Ann Lyons.
Originally published as 'Sh-tting himself': Skipper in $200m coke case feared pirates