Freshwater Five: Radar evidence suggests surveillance plane and a suspect vessel

The Court of Appeal hearing begins tomorrow for two of the Freshwater Five, where new information will be put before the judge. Read the details within

Galwad-y-Nor in the harbour

Today sees the penultimate episode of The Guardian’s five-part mini-series, Freshwater, which reveals potentially crucial evidence that was not disclosed at the trial of the Freshwater Five.

At the trial, which saw five men sentenced to a total of 104 years, the prosecution claimed that during a force 8 gale fishing trip the men had, in less than four minutes, collected 11 holdalls from the water that it was claimed had been thrown from the container ship, MSC Oriane.

The prosecution say the holdalls – which contained £53m of cocaine – were then dumped by the men in Freshwater Bay, and discovered the next day by another fisherman.

New radar information
During the trial, the prosecution argued that Galwad Y Mor fishing boat had crossed in the wake of the Oriane in the English Channel, but radar information from UK Border Agency vessel, the HMC Vigilant, suggests the Galwad was actually more than 170m away from the Oriane.

Suspect vessel
Other evidence also reveals details of what should have been a suspect vessel.

The small vessel had been recorded as being near HMC Vigilant, but then sped off to Freshwater Bay where the cocaine was found the following day.

Surveillance plane
On top of those two pieces of evidence, new information points to the suggestion that a surveillance plane could have been in the area where the drugs were claimed to have been dropped in Freshwater Bay.

Emily Bolton, the lawyer for the Freshwater Five, tells The Guardian’s Anushka Asthana that the holdalls of cocaine would have been visible to the surveillance plane at the time they flew over the Bay, but no details were disclosed at the trial.

All protest their innocence
All five men protest their innocence – following the trial they were sentenced for a total of 104 years; Jamie Green for 24 years, Jon Beere for 24 years, Zoran Dresic for 24 years, Dan Payne for 18 years (released in 2019) and Scott Birtwistle for 18 years (released in 2018).

The Appeal hearing begins tomorrow (Tuesday 23rd Feb 2021), when the Guardian’s investigation mini-series concludes with part five.

If you prefer not to listen to the podcast series, a feature by Mark Townsend featured in the Sunday Observer.

Image: © Used with permission of Steve Potter

Monday, 22nd February, 2021 12:46pm



Filed under: Freshwater, Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Law & Order, Top story

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1 Comment on "Freshwater Five: Radar evidence suggests surveillance plane and a suspect vessel"

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Eagle eye

I have listened to all the podcasts so far and heard all the set backs Emily Bolton has incurred yet she has secured an Appeal. I sincerely hope that her efforts are rewarded and these men are released.

The fact that so much evidence has been produced, which should have been available at the time of the trial, shows the the trial and conviction are questionable.