Olympic kayaker Nathan Baggaley had reason to smile yesterday after walking free from Byron Bay Local Court. He pleaded guilty
Olympic kayaker Nathan Baggaley had reason to smile yesterday after walking free from Byron Bay Local Court. He pleaded guilty

Court triumph for Olympic kayaker

By PATRIZIA REIMER

THE tide may finally be turning for Olympic kayaker Nathan Baggaley, who walked away from court yesterday triumphant.

Outside Byron Bay Local Court, and flanked by his supportive parents, the 31-year-old Suffolk Park champion said he was relieved to receive no conviction for a stealing charge laid against him three months ago.

"I'm happy, but I knew I'd be okay," he said. "It was petty stuff and a waste of the court's time to bring someone in on a petty issue like that."

Pleading guilty on Baggaley's behalf yesterday, Brisbane solicitor Peter Shields tendered five references to the court as Baggaley sat behind him.

Mr Shields explained to Magistrate Jeff Linden that while what Baggaley did on July 2 was technically breaking and entering; he never intended to keep the surf ski he took from the Byron Bay Surf Club.

Police facts tendered to the court supported this. They stated that after talking to and charging Baggaley on the night of the theft, police found the surf ski back at the surf club, confirming his claim he had just borrowed it to take measurements.

In arguing for the magistrate to apply a Section 10 bond rather than sentencing Baggaley to jail time, Mr Shields said the theft was at the bottom of that type of offensive behaviour and the prominent athlete had already been punished by the media attention.

"He was suspended from competition and he had more time on his hands than he's ever had in his life," Mr Shields said.

"He is an athlete who has been protected from the world at the Australian Institute of Sport and living a very narrow life. He has had time on his hands and made some very poor decisions."

In handing down his decision, Magistrate Linden agreed the offence was minor compared with others of a similar nature.

"There are degrees of this," he said of the crime. "This is at the very lowest level."

He handed down a six-month good behaviour bond, with no conviction recorded.

Nathan Baggaley is due to appear at Southport Magistrates Court on November 30 for breach of bail in relation to a case involving supply and possession of ecstasy and marijuana.



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