Karm Gilespie has been detained in China.
Karm Gilespie has been detained in China.

Aussie sentenced to death in China is former TV actor

The Australian man sentenced to death in China for drug-smuggling operations is a former TV and stage actor who had a recurring role on the Logie-winning series Blue Heelers.

Friends of Karm Gilespie say they are shocked over the detention of the Victorian-born man, with one claiming he had been "set up" and that drugs had been planted in his luggage.

"Knowing Karm and knowing the love he had for his children, this is not a man that deserves to lose his life," a friend said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Gilespie was reportedly arrested with 7.5 kilograms of ice in his luggage in 2013 while attempting to leave China through Guangzhou Baiyun Airport.

Fresh details have emerged about the 56-year-old actor, public speaker and entrepreneur, who grew up in Bradvale in Victoria's Western District.

He reportedly left school to embark on an apprenticeship as a "body maker", building caravans in Ballarat and, as a passionate AFL fan, to follow his footy dream.

A car accident reportedly put paid to any dreams of sporting greatness and he began studying at Victoria College at Deakin University, graduating from its famed Rusden Theatre department with a Bachelor's degree in Drama, Dance, English and Media.

Gilespie later moved to Sydney, where he appeared in stage productions and on TV, most notably in popular shows including The Man from Snowy River and Blue Heelers, where he had a recurring guest role and appeared in scenes with Gold Logie winner John Wood.

He has also worked as a puppeteer across film and TV and he appeared in a stage adaptation of The Hobbit where he performed the role of Smaug the Dragon.

In the early 2000s Gilespie reportedly turned his hand to property and finance, stating on his website that he wanted to help other people "make a difference" around their own money, property and wealth.

He also presented a course titled "Your Financial Diamond" in Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

His website stated that he was available for "guest speaking, consulting and mentoring".

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said Gilspie's sentencing "shouldn't necessarily" be seen as an escalation of tensions between the nations, but should serve as a warning for Australians overseas.

He said the Australian Government was against the death sentence and would do as much as they could to help the man.

"This is a reminder to all Australians, as is often the case when these sorts of consular cases come up, that Australian laws don't apply overseas," Senator Birmingham said.

"Other countries have much harsher penalties, particularly in relation to matters such as drug trafficking.

"But, obviously, this is very distressing for Gilespie and his loved ones, and our government will continue to provide consular assistance to him.

"We'll continue to make representations, as we do right around the world, against the use of the death penalty."

Mr Birmingham said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was providing Gilespie consular support.