Retrial for Olympian’s brother over bungled drug plot

Cheryl Goodenough |

The brother of world champion kayaker Nathan Baggaley will face a retrial over a bungled cocaine-smuggling plot after successfully appealing his conviction.

Dru Baggaley and his older brother were found guilty by a Brisbane Supreme Court jury in April 2021 of attempting to import up to $200 million worth of cocaine into Australia.

Three months later, on July 27, the Olympic silver medallist was sentenced to 25 years behind bars, while Dru Baggaley was handed a 28-year jail term.

The Queensland Court of Appeal set aside the guilty verdict on Friday, ordering Dru Baggaley face a retrial.

Nathan Baggaley has also appealed his conviction with the court yet to publish findings.

The Crown’s case at trial was that the brothers attempted to import more than 650kg of powder containing cocaine.

Prosecutors tendered footage taken from the air of Dru Baggaley and another man Anthony Draper on a seven-metre rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) meeting a large ship about 360km off Australia’s east coast.

The footage showed large plastic containers with floats being thrown into the sea from the ship, an Appeal Court judgment published on Friday says.

It also showed the RHIB trying to outpace a navy vessel about an hour later.

Nathan Baggaley (file image)
Nathan Baggaley has also appealed his conviction with the court yet to publish findings. (Nikki Short/AAP PHOTOS)

“The footage showed the appellant throwing all the containers, which were later found to contain cocaine, off the RHIB during this pursuit,” the judgment says.

The crown case was that Dru Baggaley instructed Draper to drive the RHIB in a manner which was likely to evade the navy, which had called for them to stop several times, ultimately threatening to shoot although no shots were fired.

Dru Baggaley and Draper were arrested when the RHIB was stopped at sea several hours later by Queensland police.

Nathan Baggaley was taken into custody almost a year later.

Dru Baggaley argued there was a miscarriage of justice caused by defence counsel’s conduct at the trial.

Trial counsel for Dru Baggaley failed to ask questions to elicit evidence relating to a phone, the judgment says.

The omission was significant because the ownership of that phone was crucial to the crown case against Dru Baggaley, Justice Jean Dalton said.