by John Weekes
CONVICTED cocaine importers Simon Golding and Terrance Elfar have taken another hit in the courts, losing an appeal against their jail sentences despite dividing opinion among Queensland's top judges.
Golding first made news a decade ago, when he was the sole crewmate of missing Coffs Harbour sailor Andrew Witton.
He was charged in 2010 with Elfar and former pro skateboarder Holger Sander for trying to smuggle in half a tonne of cocaine into Queensland.
The trio were jailed for 30 years each in 2015.
Elfar received a non-parole period of 20 years and Golding 18 years.
Sander was also sentenced to 30 years in jail but with a non-parole period of 16 years.
Elfar and Golding argued their criminality and background was not meaningfully different from Sander's, so their non-parole sentences should not have been so much longer.
Last month, the Queensland Court of Appeal dismissed appeals against convictions for the Elfar and Golding.
And in a judgment published on Friday, appeals against the sentences were thrown out too.
Elfar and Golding sailed a boat from Port Macquarie to the Coral Sea, where they met another vessel carrying about 400kg of impure cocaine, of which 283kg was pure.
The appeal court found that Elfar either owned or had free use of one of the boats.
"There are contrasting features which apply to Sander ... he was an experienced seaman contracted merely to sail the yacht to enable the transfer of the cocaine,” the appeal court judges wrote.
The court found Elfar's and Golding's conduct at Brisbane Supreme Court trial meant some witnesses were called unnecessarily.
"In my view, neither Elfar nor Golding can have a justifiable sense of grievance at the differing non-parole periods, either as between themselves or as between either of them and Sander,” Justice Philip Morrison wrote.
Justice Robert Gotterson agreed with Justice Morrison's order.
But in a dissenting view, Justice Philip McMurdo found Golding could "hold a justifiable sense of grievance that he will have to spend at least a further two years in jail beyond the point when Sander will be eligible for parole”.
Justice McMurdo suggested granting Golding's leave to appeal, and slashing his non-parole period by 18 months.
The sentence appeals were heard in February, as were the appeals against conviction. -NewsRegional