TWO members of the Freshwater Five, who were jailed for trying to smuggle 250kg of cocaine into the UK, have told the Court of Appeal it was “simply impossible” for them to have collected the drugs from the English Channel.

Jonathan Beere, 51, and Daniel Payne, 46, were jailed for 24 and 18 years respectively for conspiracy to import £53 million of cocaine into the UK, via Freshwater Bay, in May 2010.

Read more: Appeal to start today

Prosecutors said Payne and his three co-defendants collected the drugs in a fishing boat, the Galwad-Y-Mor. The drugs were said to have been deposited in the Channel by a container ship sailing from Brazil, the Oriane.

Beere was said to have acted as a liaison between Jamie Green, the skipper of the Galwad who was also jailed for 24 years, and those organising the smuggling.

Read more: Who are the Freshwater Five?

Kingston Crown Court heard the Galwad crossed the path of the Oriane and then slowed down to collect the cocaine by “coopering”, where goods are transferred from one vessel to another at sea.

But Beere and Payne say new radar evidence, which “finally emerged” more than seven years after their trial in 2011, shows “the Galwad never crossed behind the Oriane”.

Opening their appeals at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Joel Bennathan QC said the new data “transforms the picture that was presented to the jury”.

He said in written submissions: “The correct interpretation of this new data shows that Galwad never crossed behind the Oriane.

“As such, the idea of coopering in a very short time in quite high seas reduces from being difficult but conceivable to being simply impossible.”

Mr Bennathan told the court that there had been “major failings” by the prosecution at trial, which had prevented Beere and Payne challenging issues with the evidence against them.

He added: “The possibility of the coopering of the cocaine mid-Channel by the Galwad was a central and determinative issue at trial.

“Once there are respectable experts mounting credible arguments that would render that coopering all but impossible, how can these convictions be seen as safe?”

Mr Bennathan also said “another suspect boat” had travelled near to where the cocaine was recovered shortly after the Galwad sailed nearby.

He argued this boat was “an alternative suspect for depositing the drugs”, which was not known to the defence at the time of the trial.

Mr Bennathan said the prosecution’s failure to “examine and disclose” radar data about the other “suspect vessel” had prevented Beere and Payne mounting arguments “that might have led to different verdicts”.

The Crown argues that their convictions are still safe and their submissions opposing the appeals are expected to be begin on Thursday.

Speaking outside court before the hearing, Payne said: “I don’t really know how I feel about it to be honest, it’s a bit surreal.

“It’s nervy, but it’s also kind of flashbacks to the original trial which obviously is not a good memory.”

He also said he thought his and Beere’s case sounded “very good on paper”, but added: “Me, personally, confidence in the British justice system is pretty low to be honest.”

The hearing before Sir Julian Flaux, Mr Justice Andrew Baker and Mr Justice Calver is due to conclude on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning.

It is expected that their ruling will be reserved to a later date.

UPDATE 6pm: 

In written submissions for the Crown, Deanna Heer argued that a “correct interpretation” of the new radar data “shows that the Galwad-Y-Mor did indeed cross behind the Oriane and was in sufficiently close proximity to permit the transfer of the drugs as previously alleged”.

She said there was no evidence that the “suspect” boat went to where the cocaine was eventually found.

Ms Heer also said that, even if Beere and Payne’s new evidence was admitted, “the convictions are safe, taking into account the evidence as a whole”.