'Not guilty' plea to club break-in

By SAMANTHA TURNBULL

NATHAN Jon Baggaley has pleaded not guilty to breaking into the Byron Bay Surf Club and stealing a surf ski.

The former Olympic kayaker, 31, was due to appear in the Byron Bay Local Court yesterday but was excused from attending by magistrate Jeff Linden.

Instead, the Suffolk Park paddler had his solicitor enter a not guilty plea on his behalf.

Baggaley is facing charges of break and enter and stealing property worth less than $15,000.

Police allege Baggaley 'kicked down' the door of the surf club on the night of Monday, July 2.

A charge sheet tendered to the court yesterday said the break-in happened some time between 9.25pm and 11pm.

He is alleged to have stolen a Cory Hutchings Design surf racing ski from inside the boat shed of the club. The day after the alleged incident, the surf club's president Mark Brown said the stolen ski was a carbon-fibre model worth about $2500.

However, Mr Brown declined to comment on accusations Baggaley was the thief.

Court papers listed Mr Brown as a witness to the alleged theft.

Police said Baggaley was seen by the club's caretaker as he fled the scene with the surf ski.

They also said other witnesses reported seeing a vehicle leave the Main Beach area with the ski strapped to its top.

Baggaley was arrested and charged over the incident in the early hours of Tuesday, July 3.

Magistrate Linden yesterday adjourned the matter for mention in the Byron Bay Local Court until October 5.

Baggaley's bail was continued with a number of conditions. The conditions included he did not approach the surf club or contact Mr Brown and another witness to the alleged theft.

Baggaley, a dual Olympic silver medallist and three-time world champion kayaker, has expressed a desire to compete at next year's Beijing Games.

However, he was banned from competing in 2005 after testing positive for the steroids stanozolol and methandienone.



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