Coffs Harbour sailor linked to cocaine trafficker

SIMON Golding, the last man to see a Coffs Harbour sailor who disappeared at sea in 2007, is one of three men who have been convicted of importing nearly half a tonne of cocaine into Australia by boat in October 2010.

Mr Golding who gave evidence at the inquest of Andrew Witton in 2009, was found guilty on Thursday with helping to smuggle cocaine into Brisbane worth more than $160 million.

A Brisbane Supreme Court jury also found Terrance Elfar and Holger Sander guilty of the commercial importation of the drug.

The court heard Australian Federal Police and Customs uncovered the 496kg drug cargo on a yacht docked at Scarborough Marina at Redcliffe, north of Brisbane.

Unbeknown to them, a Customs surveillance plane was watching the transfer and the men were arrested.

The three men are due for sentencing next month.

Three years before his arrest, Golding was a crewman on board Mr Witton's yacht, when he disappeared in January 2007.

Golding said he was asleep below deck when his companion vanished in calm waters in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean.

Four days after Mr Witton went missing, Golding refused an offer from another yacht to radio for help and sailed on for almost four weeks to the Galapagos where he finally alerted authorities.

A coronial inquest was heard into Mr Witton's mysterious death.

The Commonwealth DPP deemed there was insufficient evidence for a jury to find "beyond reasonable doubt" that Golding was responsible for Mr Witton's death.

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