Two men who ran out of fuel as they tried to bring £200,000 worth of cocaine into the UK on a jet ski have been jailed.
Steve Brogan, 36, and Anthony Reilly, 34, had to be rescued from the North Sea before their arrest on 30 September last year.
The men, both from Skelmersdale in Lancashire, took their jet ski from the Lowestoft area of Suffolk to a pick up point in the Netherlands.
The pair were carrying the cocaine in a backpack when they approached a survey vessel and “asked the crew for some fuel” on their return journey, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
Hugh Vass, prosecuting, said their request for fuel was “refused” and at one point they were “pitched into the sea”.
Mr Vass added that one man was showing signs of hypothermia while the other was showing signs of exhaustion.
He added that the men were airlifted to hospital in Gorleston, Norfolk, after the Lowestoft RNLI Lifeboat and the HM Coastguard helicopter from Hull helped rescue them.
Mr Vass said helicopter crew members alerted police after becoming suspicious of the men’s behaviour and they were arrested on arrival.
The prosecution lawyer said that Brogan told officers he had been “fishing by jet ski but ran into difficulty when they ran out of fuel”.
Mr Vass said officers found the men had 2kg of cocaine in a backpack, valued at up to £200,000.
Brogan’s van and trailer were located and found to contain maps of the North Sea, a pick-up point in the Netherlands, tide timetables, a mobile phone and diving equipment, the court heard.
The jet ski was registered to Brogan.
Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) identified Brogan’s vehicle being driven in the Lowestoft area on 6 July.
Both men admitted to importing class A drugs.
Recorder Richard Christie QC jailed Brogan for seven years and six months and Reilly, who admitted to the offence before his co-defendant, to seven years in prison.
The judge said it was a “sophisticated enterprise”, adding: “There was potentially a visit to the Suffolk area from the north west of England on an earlier occasion to at least recce the situation.
“At the time of this offence a jet ski was taken by you both across the sea to Holland.
“A package of two kilos of cocaine was collected and in what could be described as a daring enterprise you sought to come back across the sea with a jet ski.”
He went on: “It was only because of the weather that things went badly wrong for you and you were very fortunate to be picked up and at public expense taken to hospital.”
Mark Stevens, for Brogan, described the defendant as a “trusted lieutenant” who was “clearly entrusted to go to collect the drugs and motivated by financial advantage”.
He said Brogan is a successful trained boxer and worked to help children within the community.
Mr Stevens said: “He lost out on a fight, he had no money coming in, he was asked to do this and foolishly agreed.”
Stephen Mather, for Reilly, said his client was a qualified plumber but his work dried up at the start of lockdown last year.
He added Reilly had got into financial difficulty at the time of the jet ski incident.
Reilly told the judge that his decision to get involved was a “lifechanging mistake”.
A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing will take place at a later date.
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