The Australian man facing a death sentence in China for drug smuggling is an entrepreneur and actor whose credits include a stint on Blue Heelers, according to new reports.

But Karm Gilespie‘s acting work is not the only revelation related to his case, with friends and associates alleging he was set up.

The Herald Sun has published further details about Gilespie, the 56-year-old Melbourne man who was convicted in 2013 of attempting to smuggle 7.5kg of methamphetamine out of a Guangzhou airport.

Gilespie, who was sentenced to death on Saturday in a Guangzhou court, appeared in the long-running cop drama Blue Heelers as a pyromaniac.

His other credits include a stage production of The Man from Snowy River, and further work devoted to Australian poet Banjo Patterson.

As pointed out by The Guardian, friends of Gilespie have spoken with sadness and surprise about his sentence.

Roger James Hamilton, an entrepreneur linked to Gilespie through a business course, took to Facebook yesterday to speak about his friend’s disappearance.

Gilespie’s associates “spent a few years trying to find out how he could disappear so suddenly and so entirely,” Hamilton said.

“After that, we resigned ourselves to the idea that he had left because he wanted to start a new life.”

Quoting an unnamed friend, Hamilton said Gilespie was visiting potential investors in China when he was asked to ferry gifts out of the country – and was allegedly tricked into carrying the drugs.

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Jill Parris, a longtime friend of Gilespie, said, “It seems to me he has been framed.”

Gilespie has ten days to appeal the verdict, and Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has confirmed he is receiving consular assistance.

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