A chef who once worked for Sheffield Wednesday Football Club is facing jail time after his attempts to smuggle £100,000 of cannabis into the UK were foiled by heroic parcel workers.

Stephen Ring, 46, appeared via live video link before Reading Crown Court today (May 6).

Lawyers in the case revealed details of an international smuggling caper, which ended in farce when Ring was arrested at the DX Express parcel depot in Bracknell.

Workers at the depot smelled cannabis in a suitcase belong to him, and were able to delay Ring at the centre while they waited for the police to arrive.

The court heard that Ring, from Sheffield, had a successful career as a chef, catering for sports teams.

He moved to Thailand some years ago to work for an international football side.

Defence barrister Alex Granville said of Ring: "He had a positive life - both here and in Sheffield, and out in Thailand."

The defendant claims that, in an effort to settle a debt, he offered to smuggle a large quantity of cannabis through Thailand and Qatar, bound for the UK.

The risky venture almost paid off, as the authorities in Bangkok and Doha did not detect the drugs.

However, the suitcase became lost in transit - ultimately ending up at the DX Express depot in Bracknell.

Ring went to the depot to reclaim the case, which was registered in his name.

Prosecuting barrister Anne-Marie Critchley said: "By this time, the suitcase was smelling strongly of cannabis, which aroused the suspicions of the baggage handlers.

"The police were called."

Once Ring arrived at the depot, staff delayed handing over the suitcase to him.

Officers swarmed the centre, detained the defendant and seized the case.

Inside, they found 12 kilograms of cannabis, with an estimated street value of £100,000.

It also transpired that Ring had driven to the depot without a licence or valid car insurance.

He has been in prison awaiting sentencing for the past six months, having pleaded guilty to a drug importation charge.

Ring read a statement to the court today, urging the judge to spare him a prion sentence.

Of his time on remand, Ring stated: "I can say it's been the worst experience of my life - and, to be honest, I can't believe I put myself in this position.

"I feel so bad about what I did, and I feel like I let my family down - and myself, because I was doing so well in life."

Recorder John Ryder KC remarked that Ring did not appear to be gang-affiliated, and that his offending seemed to be "opportunistic" in character.

But he took issue with the defendant's own account of the events, suggesting he must have played a "significant" role in the smuggling operation, and was not merely motivated by debt issues.

Recorder Ryder KC said: "I don't have the impression that he is a serious criminal. As far as he's concerned, he's seen an opportunity to get some money by bringing in a suitcase of cannabis to this country.

"I don't think he is connected with organised crime or anything of that sort."

Ring will be sentenced tomorrow (June 7).