Olympian jailed for five years
IN an Olympian fall from grace, disgraced elite Australian athlete Nathan Baggaley will not paddle his kayak until late 2012 after being jailed for five years for his role, along with kid brother Dru, in the manufacture and supply of ecstasy on the Far North Coast.
Lismore District Court Sentencing Judge James Back, found Dru, 27, to be the main player in setting up the commercial drug enterprise, ordering him to serve at least eight years' jail.
Dru also began using a pill press in the manufacture of thousands of ecstasy pills.
The 125kg machine was legally imported for use in the production of fish food pellets.
Dru was arrested with $65,500 cash - proceeds from his criminal activities.
Crown facts included Dru sourcing 30kg of a binding agent to mix with MDMA capable of producing 160,000 ecstasy pills with a conservative police street value in excess of $3.2 million.
Judge Black said information provided to police by Dru and now 'in a sealed court envelope', was of 'a high order' and he would discount his head sentence of 24 years by 50 per cent to 12 years.
With a non-parole period of eight years, Dru will be eligible for release in November 2015.
Nathan, 33, the silver medal winning Olympian and world champion kayaker, received a sentence of nine years with a five-year non-parole period, making him eligible for release in November 2012.
The drug-producing brothers have already spent 18 months in custody.
As the decision's finality struck them, the stress, pain and sadness was clearly etched on the faces of the brother's parents Sue and Noel, with Nathan's dark-haired fiancée in tears, her head down on the gallery rail comforted by Mrs Baggaley.
The men were led from the dock desperately trying to maintain their own crumbling composure.
The Baggaleys' big fall from being local Byron Bay surf club heroes began in 2007 when they were arrested in a joint Tweed/Byron police investigation named Strike Force Alawa into the supply and manufacture of commercial quantities of ecstasy on the Northern Rivers.
The Crown facts included Dru 'losing' his suitcase on a flight to Coolangatta from Sydney. The case, containing 10,000 MDMA pills weighing 3kg, was seized by police.
Dru even reported the case missing to Virgin Blue airport staff.
Nathan's defence lawyer, John Weller, likened his client's national shaming to that of disgraced former Federal Court Judge Marcus Einfeld, who was jailed for three years after the man previously regarded a 'national living treasure' tried to avoid a $77 speeding fine.
In a compassionate moment, Judge Black said the Baggaleys' parents must not blame themselves.