Was the Drugs Issue in the Sue Neill-Fraser Case Really a Red Herring?
In the Sue Neill-Fraser Yacht No Body (SNF YNB) case, the trial was to end with a curious twist, given the issue of possible drug smuggling involving the Four Winds. On 14 October 2010, the day before the jury was to hand down its verdict, there was a media release by the AFP on a major drug bust (worth $160 million) involving a similar yacht and the very same marina at which Four Winds had been purchased:
Media Release: Drug syndicate smashed, 464kg of cocaine seized
Release Date: Thursday, October 14 2010, 10:29 AM
In a major strike against organised crime, Australian law enforcement agencies have combined to execute one of the country’s largest cocaine seizures.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, with the support of NSW and Queensland police, have joined forces to seize 464kg of cocaine on Queensland’s southern coast, the third largest cocaine haul in Australian history.
The AFP charged three men on 12 October, two with attempted importation of a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug and the other with possession.
A search of a yacht docked at Brisbane’s Scarborough Marina yielded the large cocaine haul.
The AFP has since executed another 12 search warrants across New South Wales and Queensland, uncovering a clandestine lab in Eden, NSW.
On 13 October, Customs and Border Protection officers intercepted and boarded a second vessel of interest approximately 800km off the Queensland coast. This vessel is being towed back to Australia and is subject to an ongoing investigation, therefore no further comment can be made at this stage. (emphasis added)
A further article appearing on News.com.au entitled “Massive Cocaine Seizure in Queensland” stated that US authorities had tipped off the AFP that a catamaran carrying cocaine was destined for Australia from South America. Two people from the catamaran, believed to be from Costa Rica and Germany, were detained. Interesting too that a key witness, Peter Lorraine, reported a "large aluminium catamaran" at the Derwent Lane Jetty on the evening of Australia Day. However, this boat and its owners do not appear to have been identfied. In addition, the Four Winds sailed down the east coast of Australia in December 2008 and stopped at Eden on the way, arriving in Hobart just in time for Xmas and only a month before the incident on the Four Winds.
The full AFP media release and a video can be viewed here http://www.afp.gov.au/media-centre/news/afp/2010/october/drug-syndicate-smashed-464kg-of-cocaine-seized.aspx. (See top right hand corner).
This event may have been entirely co-incidental but it certainly added even more mystery and intrigue to an already complex and curious case.