A MAN who spent two weeks in a Thai jail and will be forced to spend Christmas apart from his family is due to appear in court next year.

Louis Bentley, 27, of Bellbank Way, Athersley North, was arrested in July in the tourist hotspot, Phuket.

He had lived in China for five years teaching English and had moved to Thailand during the coronavirus pandemic but ended up behind bars after drugs were allegedly found in his bag.

Louis spent two weeks in Phuket Prison and during that time was unable to contact his friends or family in Barnsley.

He said he was also unable to pay his bond after he gave his friends his savings of £2,500 with the promise they would help to pay his bail.

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However, his friends vanished with the money, leaving him stranded at the prison with no way to get home.

Louis’ mum, Michaela, created an online appeal to help raise money for his bond, which generated more than £9,000. His friends also created a music festival, Louis Fest, to help boost the coffers.

Since then, Louis has left the prison but will remain in Thailand until his court date in February, but Michaela said that he isn’t out of the woods yet.

“We’ve been told that the earliest date he can go to court is February 19 of next year,” said Michaela. “I am worried about him because it means he can’t come home until then.

“When I last spoke to him he sounded very depressed and down about it all - I think he is happy to be out of the prison but is worried about what comes next.”

Michaela now sends hundreds of pounds to Louis to help him pay for rent and food and said the next few months will be a challenge.

“It will be the longest four months of our lives,” she added. “I just want all this over and done with so he can come home and be with his family again.”

Throughout the process, Michaela has been in contact with the Foreign Office.

A spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, said: “We are supporting a British man who is on bail and facing trial in Thailand.

“This includes helping him to access medical treatment, contact local lawyers and facilitating money transfers from his family.”

Barnsley Central MP, Dan Jarvis, has been in contact with Michaela since Louis’ arrest.

He said: "My office and I are in regular contact with Michaela Bentley and are doing everything we can to support. My thoughts are with Louis and his family at this difficult time."