Monday 15 July 2019

Experienced sailor begged his yacht clubmates for forgiveness

Sarah Stack

ONE of the three British men caught smuggling a massive cocaine haul across the Atlantic apologised within days of capture for shaming his local yacht club.

Philip Doo, who friends described as a quiet, unassuming, hardworking shipwright, wrote to his former commodore in his home town of Brixham, Devon, south-west England, begging for forgiveness.

Chris Bedford, Brixham Town Council chairman, said Doo wrote two letters to him and his wife Marie, still club secretary, before pleading guilty.

"He wrote almost straightaway from Cork jail and said 'I am frightfully sorry, I might have brought the yacht club into disrepute'," said Mr Bedford.

"He even expressed a fear he could never come home again, that people just wouldn't accept him and I had to convince him that wasn't the case. I don't think he had any conception from the outset of the scale of that particular venture."

Friends claim the experienced yachtsman would never have agreed to sail during hurricane season unless he was forced into it.

Neither would he be involved in a smuggling racket unless his family were under threat, they said.

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

"This is not a seasoned drug dealer thug, this is an expert seaman who got conned into something of a far larger scale than he ever appreciated and it was too late to get out of it," said Mr Bedford.

"My impression is that he wasn't a willing participant. "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."

Doo, a father-of-six, was a well-respected shipwright before turning his hand to property development and spiralling into debt.

The 52-year-old was also once married to Rosemary Wiggins, the sister of fellow smuggler Christopher Wiggins. The couple, who had three children together, separated in 2003 -- but Doo obviously kept in close contact with his ex-brother-in-law who moved to the Costa Del Sol 11 years ago.

But despite Mr Bedford's claims that Doo was an innocent party, others have a different theory.

"You just don't get handed this much cocaine the first time you make a delivery," added one source.

A former member of Brixham Yacht Club, he was flying its distinctive burgee flag -- which features a crown and orange linked to William of Orange's landing in the port in 1688 -- when 'Dances With Waves' was seized by Irish authorities.

"He acknowledges it was all of his own making," Mr Bedford said.

"He's been bloody naughty, even stupid, but that doesn't make him a bad man."

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."

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