Australia

Sydney trio sentenced for $80m cocaine plot

Life in the fast lane is officially over for three Sydney party boys, who were on Friday sentenced to years behind bars for their roles in an international cocaine plot worth an estimated $80 million.Exactly one year to the day since they were arrested in a sophisticated police sting, Matthew James Doyle, Jared Raymond Hart…

Life in the fast lane is officially over for three Sydney party boys, who were on Friday sentenced to years behind bars for their roles in an international cocaine plot worth an estimated $80 million.

Exactly one year to the day since they were arrested in a sophisticated police sting, Matthew James Doyle, Jared Raymond Hart and Raoul Kesby learned they would spend a combined 10 years in jail after admitting to their roles in the scheme to import up to 300kg of drugs into Australia.

This year high-flying socialite Doyle, 32, his private school friend Hart, 31, and Kesby, 29, all pleaded guilty to supplying 50kg of cocaine, while Doyle also confessed to dealing with more than $500,000 of the proceeds of crime.

A fresh-faced Doyle and Hart, both sporting mid-length hair, and a bearded Kesby appeared on screen at the District Court and sat calmly as Judge Hock laid out how Doyle’s trip to Las Vegas sparked a five-month conspiracy that ended with their arrest outside a Marrickville warehouse on September 4, 2019.

In the end the drugs never existed, and the trio were arrested after collecting 50kg of inert powder — wrapped in duct tape and stamped with the shape of a Hollywood star — in an unoccupied car using a key given to them by an undercover cop.

Judge Hock described Dyle as the plot’s “principal and major participant” who recruited his co-offenders and had previously participated in “substantial” drug supply.

He was sentenced to a non-parole period of five years in prison, with a maximum term of eight years behind bars.

She said the property developer was “motivated by greed” and “wholly embraced” the opportunity to become involved in the plot.

“While the cocaine which the offenders attempted to possess or supply never in fact existed, that does not significantly reduce the objective gravity of the offending,” Judge Hock said.

Hart, who the court heard was seeking “easy money” in order to pay off a $60,000 debt to the taxman, was handed a minimum jail term of three years and two months.

He had been battling with gambling and drug addictions at the time, Judge Hock said in handing down a five-year maximum sentence.

Kesby was jailed for a non-parole period of two years and 10 months, his role confined to helping Hart pick up what he believed was drugs on September 4, 2019.

He was the “least involved” of the three, Judge Hock said, but was not helped by a criminal history that included reckless wounding and drug supply in accruing a four year and six month head sentence.

All three were facing life sentences after admitting to charges of supplying more than a commercial quantity of prohibited drugs.

Judge Hock accepted the trio had shown genuine remorse for their actions since their arrest, and believed they all had good prospects of rehabilitation.

“It is disturbing to see these three young men with so many positive qualities, and such supportive families, engaging in such criminal behaviour,” she said.

The sentences were backdated to September 4, 2019, meaning each man has already served one year.

Much of the details of the case had been shrouded in mystery owing to far-reaching suppression orders designed to protect the methods police used to bust the plan.

HOW IT PLAYED OUT

The court heard on Friday Doyle, who alongside his glamorous wife once moved in some of Sydney’s most exclusive circles, travelled to the US in April 2019 where he met two operatives known only as CS1 and CS2 in Las Vegas.

He exchanged phone numbers with them and they were soon discussing the logistics about how to import drugs into the country, and the riches that could be made.

When asked on April 23 if he wanted to be the touchpoint for regular Australian deliveries, the father-of-one replied he would be willing to accept “tonnes” of product.

Two days later, they met again at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Doyle gave them both encrypted phones and spruiked himself by telling the operatives: “Whatever I say I’ll do, I can deliver on”

“As I said to you; I’m not a gangster, I’m a businessman.

“You know I love money. I like making money and I like making friends.”

Judge Hock told the court on Friday months later Doyle would confide in another police plant back in Sydney that he had previously sold 50kg of cocaine per week during a six-month period.

She said it was clear he had been involved in supplying “substantial quantities” of illegal drugs before the plot that brought about his downfall.

Between May and July 2019 Doyle discussed in encrypted messages with CS2 possible routes the precious cargo could take from the US to Down Under, suggesting a path through Greece.

Concerned he was not abreast of all the details, he flew back to LA on July 1 to meet with the purported suppliers.

He would offer a $220,000 deposit to bring in as much drugs “as they are happy for me to” and was told he could get as much as 300kg.

On July 26, 2019, he and Hart pulled up in separate cars to Moorebank Sports Club in Sydney’s southwest to meet another operative, who they believed worked for the drug ring, to drop off the cash.

Hart carried a black bag with $219,500 and placed it in the car of an undercover cop. Doyle was told after by CS2 to expect the full 300kg.

In August, Doyle began dealing with Operative B, another clandestine officer, who told him he needed to pay another deposit because he “was new”.

The court heard when asked to confirm the amount of cocaine he was seeking, Doyle said: “Mate, (I’ll) take as much as you would like.

“It’s like I said, I want you guys to be comfortable. If you want to give me one tonne that’s fine, if you want to give me 20 (kg) that’s fine.”

Doyle rustled up another $300,300, which he would hand over to Operative B in a black backpack at a Cronulla cafe while flanked by Hart and Kesby on the morning of their arrest.

Judge Hock told the court that as he had not yet received the drugs, Doyle must have derived that cash “from a separate … criminality”.

After handing over the cash, Operative B traded them for a car key he told them would open a vehicle in an industrial estate in Marrickville, inside which would be 50kg of cocaine.

Hart and Kesby travelled to the car and collected two bags containing 25kg of grey wrapped bricks each.

They took them to Doyle at a nearby warehouse where the trio discovered they had been had.

“This is not even coke,” Doyle said to Operative B, in a message accusing the cop of robbing him.

“Please answer me because I am going to get shot over this.”

At 12.20pm on September 4, 2019, surveilling police arrested Doyle and Kesby outside the warehouse, while Hart was cuffed a short distance away.

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