Drug smugglers had to be rescued after their jet ski ran out of fuel

Two drug smugglers who tried to cross the North Sea from Holland on a jet ski with £200,000 of cocaine before running out of fuel and being rescued by helicopter are jailed for total of 14 years

  • Steven Brogan and Anthony Reilly took watercraft from Suffolk to pick-up point
  • On the return journey they asked survey vessel crew for fuel but were refused
  • They were then ‘pitched into the sea’ and had to be rescued by emergency crew
  • Brogan had told officers he had been ‘fishing by jet ski but ran into difficulty’
  • Brogan was jailed for seven years and six months and Reilly for seven years

Two drug smugglers who tried to cross the North Sea from Holland on a jet ski with £200,000 of cocaine, before running out of fuel and having to be rescued by a helicopter, have been jailed for a total of 14 years.

Steven Brogan, 36, and Anthony Reilly, 34, both of Skelmersdale in Lancashire, took the watercraft from the Lowestoft area of Suffolk to a pick-up point in the Netherlands to collect the drugs, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Hugh Vass said that on the return journey on September 30 last year, the pair approached a survey vessel and ‘asked the crew for some fuel – that request was refused’.

‘At one point they were pitched into the sea,’ said Mr Vass, adding that one man was showing signs of hypothermia and the other of exhaustion.

He said that the Lowestoft RNLI Lifeboat and the HM Coastguard helicopter from Hull helped rescue the men, who were airlifted to hospital in Gorleston in Norfolk.

Crew from the helicopter alerted police after becoming suspicious of the men’s behaviour and they were arrested on arrival, Mr Vass said.

Two drug smugglers who tried to cross the North Sea from Holland on a jet ski with £200,000 of cocaine, before running out of fuel and having to be rescued by a helicopter, have been jailed for a total of 14 years

He said that Brogan claimed to officers that he had been ‘fishing by jet ski but ran into difficulty when they ran out of fuel’.

He said officers found the men had two kilos of cocaine in a backpack, valued at up to £200,000.

Brogan’s van and trailer were located and found to contain maps of the North Sea, a pick-up point in the Netherlands, tide timetables, a mobile phone and diving equipment, Mr Vass said, adding that the jet ski was registered to Brogan.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) identified Brogan’s vehicle being driven in the Lowestoft area on July 6, Mr Vass said.

Both men admitted to importing class A drugs.

The judge, Recorder Richard Christie QC, jailed Brogan for seven years and six months and Reilly, who admitted to the offence before his co-defendant, to seven years in prison.

The judge said it was a ‘sophisticated enterprise’, adding: ‘There was potentially a visit to the Suffolk area from the north west of England on an earlier occasion to at least recce the situation.

‘At the time of this offence a jet ski was taken by you both across the sea to Holland.

‘A package of two kilos of cocaine was collected and in what could be described as a daring enterprise you sought to come back across the sea with a jet ski.’

He went on: ‘It was only because of the weather that things went badly wrong for you and you were very fortunate to be picked up and at public expense taken to hospital.’


Steven Brogan, 36, (left) and Anthony Reilly, 34, (right) both of Skelmersdale in Lancashire, took the watercraft from the Lowestoft area of Suffolk to a pick-up point in the Netherlands to collect the drugs, Ipswich Crown Court heard

Mark Stevens, for Brogan, described the defendant as a ‘trusted lieutenant’ who was ‘clearly entrusted to go to collect the drugs and motivated by financial advantage’.

He said Brogan is a successful trained boxer and worked to help children within the community.

‘He lost out on a fight, he had no money coming in, he was asked to do this and foolishly agreed,’ Mr Stevens said.

Stephen Mather, for Reilly, said Reilly was a qualified plumber but his work dried up at the start of lockdown last year, he got into financial difficulty then got involved in the jet ski incident.

Reilly told the judge that his decision to get involved was a ‘lifechanging mistake’.

A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing will take place at a later date.

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