Police investigating the alleged importation of $176m worth of cocaine.
Police investigating the alleged importation of $176m worth of cocaine.

Bail for man in $176m cocaine collection

A MAN who drove a boat nearly 100 nautical miles out to sea to pick up $176 million worth of cocaine off the northern NSW coast, as part of a syndicate allegedly including a former Olympic kayaker, has been granted bail.

Anthony Draper, 53, from the Sydney suburb of Balgowlah, tried to outrun a Navy patrol boat in a glorified dinghy east of Byron Bay on July 31 last year while carrying the cocaine packages.

Federal police are investigating the alleged cocaine importation. File picture
Federal police are investigating the alleged cocaine importation. File picture

Draper's lawyers were in the Supreme Court in Brisbane this morning where they applied for bail, submitting that Draper admits trying to import a border controlled drug, but claiming he believed he was picking up cannabis, not cocaine.

While Draper steered at high speed, his co-accused Dru Baggaley, a fishmonger from Coolangatta and brother of Olympic kayaker Nathan Baggaley, is alleged to have moved around the dinghy "throwing the packages in the ocean".

He is charged with one count of importing a border controlled drug, namely cocaine.

Dru and Nathan Baggaley have also been charged in relation to the alleged cocaine smuggling ring.

All men are yet to enter pleas to the charges.

Prosecutors allege Dru and Draper left Brunswick Heads boat ramp at 11pm on July 30, and sailed for 11 hours before they met a 55 metre long red "mother" ship in international waters and collected 600kgs of cocaine in 30 packages.

Three hours later a Navy patrol boat spotted them and tried board them, but Draper "panicked and accelerated" the boat, prosecutors allege.

The pair appeared to have got away when the patrol boat stopped chasing them to pick up the 30 packages.

But four hours later a Queensland water police boat intercepted them 65 nautical miles east of Byron Bay and they were arrested.

Justice Peter Davis today granted Draper bail but banned him from using any form of boat or "watercraft", leaving Queensland and forcing him to live with his son Jordan Anthony Pearson at his home in Robina, on the Gold Coast.

Commonwealth prosecutors unsuccessfully argued Draper should be kept in custody because his vast sailing experience makes him a risk of flight, and he is facing life in prison if convicted.

Draper has ties to Fiji, where his wife lives, the court heard.

His indictment is due to be presented by September 18.

Dru Baggaley
Dru Baggaley

Justice Davis noted there is a "substantial dispute" about whether Draper believed he was importing cocaine or cannabis.

The drugs were allegedly for a suspected international cocaine ring.

Nathan Jon Baggaley has submitted an application for bail to the Supreme Court, it is set to be heard on August 15.