A French citizen who saw no way out of his business debt agreed to repay his creditor by swallowing more than 600 grams of cocaine to smuggle it into Australia.
However, Adrien Lionel van Langenhove's plan came unstuck when at least one of the pellets burst in his digestive system while he was on a plane somewhere between Los Angeles and Brisbane.
Van Langenhove arrived at Brisbane International Airport on December 3, 2017 and was searched by customs officers who found traces of cocaine on his luggage.
But they waved him through when they failed to locate any more drugs.
With pains in his stomach increasing, Van Langenhove, 39, bought laxatives the next day from a chemist in the hope it would move the drugs through his system.
The following day he tried to buy even more laxatives and complained of his discomfort to the pharmacist, who called him an ambulance.
He confessed to paramedics that he had ingested a large quantity of drugs.
He then spent several days in hospital having 86 pellets containing 637 grams of cocaine removed from his body either by surgery or through natural expulsion.
Van Langenhove was arrested by police upon discharge, and on Monday pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Supreme Court to importing a marketable quantity of border controlled drugs.
He was sentenced to seven years' jail with a non-parole period of four years.
The court heard he had agreed to act as a courier to clear an $A5600 business debt he had incurred while working and living in Costa Rica and Guatemala.
The pressure to repay his debt increased markedly after he travelled to Australia in mid-2017 for work, with his creditors seeing the trip as a display of wealth.
Defence barrister Simon Lewis said van Langenhove didn't ask for help from his family out of shame at being unable to handle his own financial affairs.
He said his client agreed to carry the drugs out of fear for his safety.
Van Langenhove has already spent 619 days in pre-sentence custody.
Australian Associated Press