THE brother of the York man who was arrested on serious drugs charges in Thailand said today he expected him to return home.

Robert Neilson, 44, of Bad Bargain Lane, York, was initially accused of drug trafficking, which carries the death penalty in Thailand.

But it was revealed on Saturday that the charge had been reduced to possession, and he was freed from jail after paying £10,000 bail money.

Today Richard Neilson, who used to run a butcher's shop in Scunthorpe with his brother, said he had spoken to Robert, who seemed relieved the charges had been reduced.

Robert Neilson could still be sentenced to more than 20 years in jail for the offences. But a Thai-based journalist has told the Evening Press that in previous cases foreigners have left Thailand shortly after being released.

Richard Neilson said Robert was likely to continue his holiday with his daughter, Rosanna, before returning to England.

He said: "He went over there for a holiday, so he is intending to do that."

He was looking forward to relaxing out in Thailand before returning to his family, he said.

He added that Robert had never been very worried about the drugs charges.

"He knew he was innocent of the serious charges. His solicitor was telling him he would be OK," he said.

"Obviously he was worrying, but I don't think he took it too seriously."

Richard Neilson said that he thought the whole incident had been blown out of proportion.

Robert Neilson, also known as Robert Duncan Bailey, had appeared in court in the Thai town of Pattaya. Thai police initially accused him of attempting to traffic over 600g of heroin, 80 bottles of ketamine and nearly 500g of cannabis.

The charges related to a raid on a house rented by Robert Neilson in Pattaya on October 4 last year. Police said they found the drugs packaged to be sent to England.

Updated: 10:57 Monday, October 20, 2003