Drug smugglers jailed after trying to cross the North Sea on jet ski with £200,000 of cocaine

‘Things went badly wrong’ for Steven Brogan and Anthony Reilly’s ‘daring enterprise’, says judge

Kate Ng
Tuesday 16 February 2021 21:03
<p>Anthony Reilly, 34, and Steven Brogan, 36, of Skelmersdale in Lancashire, have been sentenced to jail after attempting to cross the North Sea on a jet ski with £200,000 of cocaine</p>

Anthony Reilly, 34, and Steven Brogan, 36, of Skelmersdale in Lancashire, have been sentenced to jail after attempting to cross the North Sea on a jet ski with £200,000 of cocaine

Two men who attempted to smuggle £200,000 of cocaine across the North Sea on a jet ski have been jailed after their “daring enterprise” ended in a rescue operation because they ran out of fuel.

Steven Brogan, 36, and Anthony Reilly, 34, both from Skelmersdale in Lancashire, took the jet ski from Lowestoft, Suffolk, to a pick-up point in the Netherlands on 30 September last year to collect the drugs, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

On their way back to England, the pair approached a survey vessel and “asked the crew for some fuel” prosecutor Hugh Vass told the court, adding, “that request was refused”.

“At one point they were pitched into the sea,” he said, adding that one man was showing signs of hypothermia and the other of exhaustion.

The Lowestoft RNLI Lifeboat and HM Coastguard helicopter from Hull were called to help rescue the stranded men, who were airlifted to hospital in Gorleston in Norfolk.

Helicopter crew alerted police after becoming suspicious of their behaviour, and were arrested on arrival, Mr Vass said.

Brogan claimed to officers he was “fishing by jet ski but ran into difficulty when they ran out of fuel” - but 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 officers discovered maps of the North Sea, a pick-up point in the Netherlands, tide timetables, a mobile phone and diving equipment inside, the prosecutor added, noting that the jet ski was registered to Brogan.

The court heard the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system identified Brogan’s vehicle being driven in the Lowestoft area on 6 July.

Both men pleaded guilty to importing class A drugs.

Judge Recorder Richard Christie QC, sentenced Brogan to seven years and six moths in jail, and Reilly, who admitted to the offence before his partner in crime, to seven years in prison.

He 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.

“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,” he added.

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

He added that Brogan was a successful trained boxer and worked to help children within the community.

Stephen Mather, for Reilly, said his client was a qualified plumber but got into financial difficulty due to a lack of work at the start of lockdown last year before he got involved with the jet ski incident.

Reilly told the judge that his decision to get involved was a “life-changing mistake”.

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

Additional reporting by agencies

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in