Two men have been handed lengthy prison sentences for their involvement in bringing 750 kilograms of cocaine into New South Wales on a yacht in November 2017.
Police tracked the yacht carrying $245 million worth of cocaine from Tahiti to Coffs Harbour before boarding the vessel in Lake Macquarie.
Kent Anthony Jackson, 64, was described by the judge as a “middle manager” and was sentenced in Newcastle Local Court to 19.5 years in prison.
Dennis Malcolm Bath, 69, who was described as Jackson’s assistant, was given 13 years in prison.
Both men were charged with the commercial importation of illegal drugs.
Judge Peter Berman said it was a serious example of a very serious offence, and the maximum penalty for importing a commercial quantity of drugs was life imprisonment.
He said Jackson was more heavily involved in the organisation of the drug importation, responsible for the shipment, the logistics, as well as recruiting Bath.
Jackson had also handled the money and supplied encrypted mobile phones.
The judge said Bath did what he was directed to do by Jackson.
In evidence it was revealed that Jackson was to receive $3 million which he was to split with Bath and another man.
Judge Berman told the court that given the serious nature of their crime, neither man had much of a criminal history.
He said character references had described Jackson as “a caring person who does not have any of the characteristics of a person who would commit the crimes he has committed”.
The judge said Jackson had racked up more than $120,000 in gambling debts in Hong Kong to a business associate who had offered him a dealership in encrypted phones that could be used to commit crimes.
The judge was satisfied that Jackson had been threatened by the associate, but said its relevance to the sentences handed down was relatively modest.
He said Jackson had not been supervised in his criminal activities in Australia, and had chosen to visit his associate in Hong Kong on a number of occasions.
As both men were in their sixties, the judge acknowledged that they would do their time much harder than a person who knows that, on release, they would have many years ahead of them.
They had also pleaded guilty at the earliest possible moment, but the judge said they knew the quantity of drugs they were importing and the consequences if they were arrested.
Jackson will be eligible for parole in 2030 and Bath will be eligible in 2027.