Devon yachtsman pleads guilty to smuggling €500m of cocaine

One of the three British men caught smuggling a 1.7 tonnes of cocaine across the Atlantic reportedly apologised within days of capture for shaming his local yacht club.

Philip Doo was one of three crew aboard the 60′ yacht Dances With Waves when she was intercepted by the Irish coastguard last year and found to have about €500million worth of cocaine aboard.

Doo, described by friends as a quiet, unassuming, hardworking shipwright, wrote two letters to the secretary of Brixham Yacht Club before pleading guilty to possession of drugs with intent to supply.

The Irish Times reports: ‘He wrote almost straightaway from Cork jail and said ‘I am frightfully sorry, I might have brought the yacht club into disrepute’, said Chris Bedford, whose wife Marie is still club secretary. ‘I don’t think he had any conception from the outset of the scale of that particular venture.’

Friends claim Mr Doo, an experienced yachtsman, would never have agreed to sail during hurricane season unless he was forced into it, and neither would he be involved in a smuggling racket unless his family were under threat.

Police said all three crew had fallen on hard times and were recruited by an international crime network in early 2008.

‘My impression is that he wasn’t a willing participant,’ Mr Bedford commented. “But he can hardly say he didn’t notice a couple of tonnes of cocaine stuffed in the bottom of the boat. He was caught red-handed. He accepts that with enormous, genuine regret.’

Mr Bedford said he couldn’t believe it when Doo was arrested last November. “To cross the North Atlantic with two seasick men, neither of whom was really a sailor, in that weather was in itself quite an achievement.

“I think they were quite grateful to be arrested.”

The yacht had been tracked across the Atlantic. One Garda officer told the Guardian newspaper, “This was, in fact, not a very sophisticated drug-smuggling operation.”

Read the Irish Times’ full story here.