Sailor 'on holiday' found guilty of drug import

Baila and the cocaine found aboard her
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In the easy camaraderie of an anchorage or a marina, it is easy to assume that the boat next to you has sailors in it 'just like you', but the following anecdote belies that. A sailor who had just completed a passage from St Lucia to Britain has been arrested and found guilty of importing cocaine to a street value of £90m, even though he maintained throughout his trial that he was merely on a holiday after a marriage break-up and didn't know the skipper before the voyage.

The sailor, Piotr Pachnia, 33, had 'no idea' the drugs were there, he told the court.

He was arrested after UK Border Agency officials found the drugs during a search of the boat, Baila, at Portsmouth Naval Dockyard, Hampshire, in June 2012.

He told a 12-strong jury at Portsmouth Crown Court he took $10,000 (about £6,300) from savings and money given to him by his mother-in-law on the trip.

Mr Pachnia said marriage problems prompted him to join captain and co-defendant Thomas Dylik, 48, onboard, but that he did not know where they would be travelling to.

The father-of-two said he contacted Dylik - who has already admitted drug offences in connection with the case - on the internet and did not know him prior to the trip.

More than 470 packages of cocaine were found during a search by UK Border Agency officers

Both Mr Pachnia and Dylik were arrested after customs officials tracking the yacht boarded it south of the Isle of Wight.

The cocaine was found behind false walls, hidden in compartments and a holdall.

The yacht was returning from St Lucia in the Caribbean when customs officials started tracking it in the English Channel near Plymouth on 8 June.