A boatie who became the “hired help” in a bungled drug importation plot was told to get on with it when he discovered the haul was cocaine, a court has heard.
A boatie who became the “hired help” in a bungled drug importation plot was told to get on with it when he discovered the haul was cocaine, a court has heard.

Surfing champion pleads to botched cocaine import

A SYDNEY boatie who became the "hired help" in a bungled $195,000 million drug importation plot was told to "get on with it" when he discovered while 350km out to sea that the haul was cocaine not marijuana, a court has heard.

Surfing champion Anthony Trevor Draper, 55, from Manly NSW, pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Supreme Court to attempting to import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug - namely 512kg of cocaine - between May and August 2018.

He will be sentenced on Thursday for the offence, which carries a maximum penalty of life behind bars.

Crown Prosecutor Ben Power on Wednesday told the court Draper was drafted into the importation plot by another man to take "control of the vessel" and sail off the coast of northern NSW to specific coordinates out to sea.

Anthony Trevor Draper, 55, from Manly NSW, pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Supreme Court to attempting to import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
Anthony Trevor Draper, 55, from Manly NSW, pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Supreme Court to attempting to import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

The court heard Draper was misled and believed the drugs he was to collect were cannabis, not cocaine.

Draper became involved with the other defendants alleged to be involved in the plot after visiting one of the men behind bars, the court heard.

The court heard Draper needed money and was offered $10,000 to sail a ridged inflatable boat out to sea and collect the drugs.

After travelling for 10 hours off the coast of NSW with a seasick second man in tow, Draper came across a larger vessel and packages of drugs were loaded into the boat, the court heard.

" … at the pick up point he expressed surprise about (the cocaine) but was told to get on with it," Justice Martin Burns said during the proceedings.

The court heard the total quantity of substance loaded into the boat was 615kg - later found to be 512kg of pure cocaine, with a street value of up to $195 million.

Soon after collection the haul, which Draper later told police was a "particularly frightening experience" where a pirate-style boat emerged from the dark and masked armed men emerged, the pair were spotted by a navy vessel.

The court heard the second man began throwing the drugs over the side of the boat when he realised they had been detected.

Draper tried to escape the navy for some 200km before being intercepted by authorities.

A significant number of packages were recovered by the navy, while others later washed up on beaches up and down the east coast, the court heard.

Defence barrister Russell Pearce told the court Draper agreed to his role in the cocaine importation plot because it "seemed like a good idea at the time".

"He certainly didn't know it was cocaine, he didn't know the volume of the drug," he said.

Draper will be sentenced on Thursday.