Beekeeper turned accidental drug mule returns home to NZ

A Greymouth pensioner who was duped into carrying 2.5 kilos of cocaine into Australia has returned home, after a jury cleared him of smuggling charges.

Roy Arbon spent 18 months in jail awaiting trial after picking up a dodgy suitcase from a Nigerian in Brazil.

Now, he's finally back in his happy place  standing at the Grey River Mouth with a fishing rod in hand.

After 18 months behind bars, this is a moment to savour.

"So different," says Mr Arbon. "If they could see me now!"

Friends and family rallied behind the retired beekeeper when he was arrested as a suspected drug mule in 2016.

Perth border control picked up a suitcase he was carrying, containing 2.5 kilos of high-quality cocaine.

Mr Arbon, shocked, thought he was ferrying clothes as a favour for a Nigerian man in Brazil.

"He gave me a hand, someone asked me to take the suitcase, and I said, 'Yeah, no problem'. I took all the clothes out, checked the bottom, and to me, it was just a normal suitcase," said Mr Arbon.

His protests fell on deaf ears  and he spent 18 months in jail awaiting trial.

Mr Arbon's friend Graeme Mac says there were 'two camps' of belief when it came to this trial.

"There was 'he's guilty, chuck the key away', and there was a lot of others who said, 'This is not Roy'".

Mr Arbon, an experienced mountaineer, once received a medal for assisting recovery workers during the 1979 Mt Erebus tragedy. 

While he's been fooled by scammers before, his supporters say drug trafficking isn't in his character.

"You have to be an idiot to take a suitcase from someone else. Sorry Roy!  but you do," said Mr Mac.

The jury found him not guilty this month.

With his honour intact, the unwitting drug mule now plans to focus on the little things.

Mr Arbon says "going to the bush, seeing the stars, and sitting by the bonfire," is at the top of his list.

And he has one message for travelers: Never, ever, under any circumstances, carry someone else's bag.


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