Two men jailed for smuggling more than 66 kilograms of cocaine into Queensland by hiding it inside the body of a luxury yacht were described as being “driven by a cynical and selfish greed” in the Brisbane Supreme Court.
British citizen Martin Mayers was sentenced to 20 years’ jail, after being found guilty of importing the 94 blocks of compressed cocaine in 2015.
The yacht’s skipper Arthur Rivkin, from Estonia, was sentenced to just over 16 years’ jail, after pleading guilty to the same offence.
A third man, Jordan Antic, was jailed for 12 years for attempting to possess 40 blocks of the drug for distribution in Sydney, worth more than $6 million.
During sentencing, the Supreme Court in Brisbane heard the drugs found in the yacht Solay had a street value of more than $14.5 million dollars.
It took a jury nearly two days to reach the verdict following the eight-day trial.
Police seized more than 66 kilograms of pure cocaine when they arrested the group of men on the Gold Coast on August 24, 2015.
When speaking about Mayers and Rivkin, Justice Helen Bowskill said the maximum penalty of their crime was life imprisonment because it was regarded as an extreme and serious offence.
“The deterrent aspect of this punishment … is regarded as of primary importance in cases of this kind because of the difficulty in detecting the offence and the great social consequences that follow from its commission,” she said.
“Stern and severe punishment is warranted in order to protect society from the deliberate attack made upon it by persons who would commit offences of this kind.”
She said it was of particular relevance that they were people from foreign countries who made the premeditated decision to come to Australia to commit the offence.
“None of the defendants have the benefit of youth … there is no suggestion of this conduct being driven by anything other than what might be described as cynical and selfish greed.”
Yacht sailed via Ecuador, Fiji before Gold Coast
During the trial, prosecutor Lincoln Crowley told the court Rivkin had sailed to Australia after stops in Ecuador, Fiji and Vanuatu and was greeted on his arrival to a berth in Coomera by Mayers.
Mr Crowley said the men then went to meet three others — including Antic and Victor Jokic — at a nearby carpark to complete a drug deal.
He said the pair stopped at a large hardware store and bought tools including angle grinders, wrecking bars and power cords that were used to access “hiding places” in the yacht’s fibreglass hull.
Mr Crowley said the men then went to meet three others — Marko Maksimovic, Antic and Victor Jokic — at a nearby carpark to complete a drug deal.
During the trial, the court heard police found 40 packages of “compressed white powder” at the scene, before locating another 54 packages when they searched the Solay.
Mayers had pleaded not guilty to one charge of importing a commercial quantity of drugs.
Hidden surveillance recordings, photos and phone intercepts of discussions between some of the men were shown to the court.
Defence barrister Greg McGuire, acting for Antic, said during the trial there was not enough evidence for prosecutors to prove beyond reasonable doubt his client knew Mayers and Rivkin had cocaine and that Antic was planning on taking it.
Mr McGuire said his client had accepted a job to take “bulky items” and thought he would be packing chandeliers and kitchen equipment in his van, not blocks of wrapped cocaine.
Mayers has a parole eligibility of 13 years and four months but because he has already spent three years behind bars he will become eligible for parole in 2029.
Rivkin was sentenced to 16 years and 2 months with a non-parole period at 10 years and eight months, while Antic will be eligible for parole in six years.
Both have already also served three years in custody.