Asylum seeker awaits drug import sentence

·1-min read

A man who smuggled more than $16 million of opium into Australia in machinery once feared he would drown while trying to seek asylum in the country.

Saeid Balagar admitted attempting to possess more than 10kg of the drug, shipped from Turkey to St Albans, in Melbourne's northwest, in January 2018.

Lawyer Jo Swiney told Victoria's County Court on Wednesday Balagar was a "vulnerable young man" who travelled to Australia by boat from Indonesia to seek asylum in 2013.

Originally from Iran, the then-22-year-old lacked maturity and had turned to drugs and alcohol as a way coping with post-traumatic stress disorder, Ms Swiney said.

"He thought he was going to die in the water," she added.

"(Balagar) sees the Australian government and the Australian navy as having rescued him and saved his life."

Prosecutor Krista Breckweg said Balagar played a more significant role than co-offender Nader Khanmohammadi Ahmad Abad.

He previously admitted attempting to possess a marketable quantity of drugs and is due to be sentenced on June 14.

Balagar remains in custody and is due to be sentenced on April 29.