Pair guilty over cocaine hidden in shipping container

Rex Martinich |

Brendan Sipple and his co-accused have been found guilty over an attempt to import cocaine.
Brendan Sipple and his co-accused have been found guilty over an attempt to import cocaine.

Two men celebrated finding what they thought was dozens of kilograms of cocaine, turning up their van’s radio for the song ‘Circles’ by Post Malone while unaware that police were listening.

Nearly four years later, both men would face a trial before a Brisbane Supreme Court jury where covert recordings of their repeated late-night trips to survey a yard full of shipping containers would be played in court.

Jordan Roman Brennan and Brendan John Sipple were both found guilty on Friday of attempting to possess a commercial quantity of unlawfully imported drugs.

Jordan Brennan arrives at the Supreme Court
Jurors spent more than six hours to find Jordan Brennan (pictured) and Sipple guilty. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

The jury found the pair had entered a yard at the Port of Brisbane and attempted to access a specific shipping container on June 12, 2020 while looking for 42 packages of cocaine concealed in its refrigeration unit.

Jurors had spent a majority of the four-day trial listening to recordings of Brennan and Sipple talking during their drives from their Gold Coast homes to the port about how their South American employers “should throw us some paper” for finding the shipping container.

Some of the two men’s supporters gasped and dried their eyes in court when the verdicts were read out after the jury spent more than six hours deliberating.

Both Brennan and Sipple said no when the bailiff asked if they had anything to say as to why sentences should not be passed upon them.

Crown prosecutor Patrick Wilson told the jury during his closing address on Wednesday that there was no other explanation why Brennan and Sipple had entered the yard about 4am having talked extensively about hidden cocaine.

“They were talking about taking drugs from the container and burying them … they had genuine intent to the extent of making comments about what to do. It’s clear as day. It’s powerful evidence,” Mr Wilson said.

Dock workers in Belgium had found the packages, containing between 82 and 96 per cent pure cocaine, in February and the drugs were seized by Belgian police.

The container arrived at Brisbane on June 6 under surveillance by Queensland and federal police.

Police devices attached to Brennan and Sipple’s Hyundai iLoad van tracked their movements and recorded their conversations.

Brennan’s barrister Saul Holt told the jury on Wednesday that they faced a difficult and unpalatable task but they had to find his client not guilty due to serious flaws in the case.

“The police evidence stripped of the lies or, if one is being generous, rank and gross incompetence proves that these men did not enter the container and that disproves the prosecution’s case,” Mr Holt said.

Sipple’s barrister Josh Underwood previously said the trial was not about whether his client had entered the yard or committed any other offence, but whether he had accessed the shipping container.

Following the jury’s verdict on Friday, Justice Michael Copley adjourned the matter for sentencing on June 6 and remanded Brennan and Sipple in custody.