NSW man jailed for failed drug smuggling

Aaron Bunch
Anthony Trevor Draper has been jailed over his involvement in a 500kg cocaine bust

A former surfing champion fled from the Australian navy while his seasick co-accused hurled $195 million worth of cocaine overboard during a botched drug smuggling operation.

Anthony Trevor Draper pleaded guilty to attempting to import 512kg of cocaine that he and another man picked up from armed and masked men aboard a Colombian ship off the NSW coast in 2018.

The pair motored for about nine hours from Brunswick Heads to collect the drugs that are estimated to have had a street value of between $130 and $195 million, the Brisbane Supreme Court heard.

Draper, a former fisherman and surfboard maker, was told by his co-accused their journey was to collect "a couple of hundred kilograms of pot or smoko".

But two hours after loading 39 packages of plastic-wrapped cocaine, the pair were speeding away from the navy as his co-accused hurled the drugs overboard.

Australian Border Force officers on the ADV Cape Fourcroy had been watching as the two men packed their rigid inflatable.

"There was an attempt to stop and board but (your co-accused) instructed you to accelerate away in an attempt to evade interception," Justice Martin Burns said on Thursday.

For almost 200km Draper and his co-accused hightailed it across the ocean while being followed by a fixed-wing aircraft and then a helicopter before water police finally intercepted the pair 65 nautical miles off Byron Bay.

"I find you were not aware that cocaine was to be imported ... (but) you did play an essential role in attempted importation," Justice Burns said.

"You might be described as a facilitator or a hired hand."

Draper was promised $10,000 for skippering the boat.

"That is a minuscule proportion of the potential profits that could have been earned by (your co-accused)," Justice Burns said.

Despite this, he sentenced Draper to 13 years' imprisonment for attempting to import a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.

Draper will be eligible for parole after four years and three months behind bars.