Olympic star refused bail
By HELEN JACK
OLYMPIC kayaker Nathan Baggaley and his brother Dru will spend Christmas behind bars.
And they face the prospect of spending the next 20 years in jail.
The two men were remanded in custody when they appeared in Casino Local Court yesterday on serious drug charges.
They were arrested and charged after raids by police in Brunswick Heads and Byron Bay on Wednesday. The raids were part of an operation called Strike Force Alawa, which began in April last year to investigate a large-scale ecstasy manufacture and sales operation in Byron Bay and Sydney.
Dru Baggaley, 25, of Suffolk Park, his brother Nathan, 32, of Byron Bay, and other co-accused are named as alleged principals in the operation which produced drugs with a street value totalling $2.5 million
Nathan is charged with five offences, including possessing a tablet press, manufacture of a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug, supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug, and supplying a prohibited drug totalling $1.025million.
Dru faces 13 charges, including manufacturing a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug, supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug, possessing a tablet press, supplying prohibited drugs on an ongoing basis, and being in possession of proceeds of crime including $62,520 in cash.
In court yesterday only Nathan applied for bail.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Peter Costin-Neilsen opposed the move, saying the charges Nathan faced were very serious and he posed a flight risk.
"There is also an extreme amount of money in question," he said.
"Nathan also has an international flight booked for Friday, November 23.
"He is already on bail for three Queensland offences, including breaching bail curfew, possession of 800 ecstasy tablets and ordering parts for the pill press for which he is awaiting sentence in a Queensland court on December 20."
Nathan's defence lawyer, Peter Shields, said Nathan's parents had offered a surety of $500,000 for Nathan's bail and offered for him to reside with them in the Byron Hills.
"He would be willing to submit to a curfew and surrender his passport."
Mr Shields said Nathan had booked the international flight to compete at a kayaking event in Dubai.
"He is an Olympian who has represented his country, has held multiple world titles and holds two Olympic silver medals."
Bail was refused by Magistrate Annette Sinclair. She adjourned the case to Lismore Local Court on February 19, where both brothers will appear via video link from jail.
In police facts tended to the court it is alleged Dru would fly from Coolangatta or Ballina airports to Sydney on a weekly basis to source and supply drugs, namely MDMA, and that a co-accused would return with them to Byron Bay, either by car, bus or plane.
Police allege the accused would regularly change their mobile phones to avoid detection and would buy them under false names. It is also alleged an email account was set up. The accused would allegedly use both text messages and email to arrange drug transactions.
During one incident last month, police allege they intercepted a mobile phone text message indicating Dru was travelling to Sydney to buy MDMA tablets and followed him to Ballina airport. The Sydney drug squad was alerted. They claim they saw Dru meet people and then travel to Sydney's eastern suburbs.
Dru is alleged to have returned to Sydney airport several hours later and caught a return flight to Coolangatta.
Police identified a bag checked in at Sydney airport. It was seized and searched and allegedly found to contain 10,000 MDMA tablets.
Police allege before the drug seizure they intercepted a telephone call to Nathan in which Dru allegedly planned to sell the drugs to another man in Ballina.
They say once Dru discovered the bag was not at Coolangatta to be collected, he contacted Nathan again to inform him of the situation.