• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Briton spared jail for trying to smuggle Calais refugee girl
Rob Lawrie before his trial in France began. Photo: AFP

Briton spared jail for trying to smuggle Calais refugee girl

The Local · 14 Jan 2016, 16:44

Published: 14 Jan 2016 16:44 GMT+01:00
Updated: 14 Jan 2016 16:44 GMT+01:00

The attempted smuggling took place after the ex-army training instructor was lending a hand at the notorious Calais refugee camp "the Jungle" in late October. 
 
At the request of her father, he decided to try and smuggle the girl, Bahar, back to relatives in the UK. 
 
He was stopped by French border police who found the girl in a sleeping compartment of the truck, and charged Lawrie with "aiding illegal immigration".
 
The girl, meanwhile, was returned to the camp in Calais where she remains with her father. 
 
She was in court on Thursday along with her father to support Lawrie, who escaped a prison sentence but was told he would pay a €1,000 fine if he repeated the offence.
 
Lawrie, a former British soldier apologised to the French court on Thursday saying: "It was irrational, I wasn't thinking clearly. I tried to make sure she could join her family.
 
"What I did was stupid, I was emotionally exhausted. I am sorry," he told the court.
 
 
 
 
 
Rob Lawrie. Photo: Le Parisien/Screenshot
 
Lawrie has attracted public sympathy in the UK where an online petition to free him has been gaining steam. The man, who is the first to admit that his actions were wrong, says he has already suffered. 
 
"It's cost me my family and my job. Financially I am virtually bankrupt," he said. 
 
He told Le Parisien newspaper that he decided to get involved in Calais after seeing the now famous picture of the dead Syrian three-year-old boy washed up on a Turkish beach. 
 
Story continues below…
"That picture changed my life, it made ​​me want to do something. That evening, I took my truck and I came to Calais," he said. 
 
Lawrie had visited the sprawling camp several times to build shelters for its thousands of residents living there.
 
During his visits, Lawrie got to know the girl, nicknamed Bru, and her father asked him several times to take her across the Channel before he agreed.
 
"Who in their right mind would rather a child live in a tent on a chemical dump than allow me to take that one child to her family five miles (eight kilometres) from where I live?" Lawrie told AFP in November.
 
An online petition calling for the case against Lawrie to be dropped has attracted 120,000 signatures in France and 50,000 signatures in Britain.
Today's headlines
France faces same big questions after latest attack
Photo: AFP

The latest terror attack has left France facing similar questions to those it has tackled numerous times since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January last year. So how will France react?

Muslim leaders denounce attack on French church
CFCM President Anouar Kbibech in front of the Grande Mosque in Paris, June 2015. Photo: AFP

France's Muslim leaders have denounced Tuesday's apparent terror attack at a church, and called for the country's Muslims to band together in support.

French workers 'pay the most taxes in Europe'
Photo: AFP

From tomorrow the French will be the only workers in Europe still handing over money to the taxman.

Church mourns loss of slain 86-year-old French priest
Photo: AFP

Father Jacques Hamel could have retired at 75 but believed he could still be of service so carried on.

What we know about the attack on the French church
Photo: AFP

A priest was killed after armed men took over a church in northern France, before they too were killed by police. Here is what we know.

A timeline of terror in France since Charlie Hebdo
Police officers near the Bataclan concert hall in Paris on November 13th, 2015. Photo: AFP

Here is a recap of major assaults and foiled attempts since the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris in January 2015.

Isis claims priest's killing as Hollande vows all-out war
Photo: AFP

Terror group Isis has said its soldiers were behind the killing of a French priest at his church on Tuesday as President François Hollande vows to wage war against them "by every means".

France has long feared terror would strike its churches
Notre Dame is one place of worship that soldiers are asked to protect. Photo: AFP

France's long-standing fears that its churches would be targeted by terrorists were realized on Tuesday. But can the government do anything to protect them?

BREAKING
Priest slain in 'terror attack' on church in northern France
Photo: AFP

UPDATED: Two men armed with knives killed a priest after taking several people hostage at a French church, before they were shot dead by police.

One dead after violent clashes in Calais migrant camp
The "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais. Photo: AFP

An Ethiopian has died after he was stabbed in the chest during clashes at the Calais migrant camp.

Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
A timeline of terror in France since Charlie Hebdo
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
A timeline of terror in France since Charlie Hebdo
Culture
Thirteen free and easy ways to learn French
Culture
32 mistakes foreigners make when they arrive in France
National
Here are the worst scams to avoid whilst driving in France
Analysis & Opinion
Isis can simply be a conduit for the violent desires of psychopaths
Features
Six outdoor bars in Paris you simply must visit
Culture
The open-air Villette cinema has been cancelled over security fears
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Culture
Henri Rousseau exhibition proves huge hit in Paris
National
Frenchman caught trying to sell Nice massacre souvenirs online
Society
OPEN NOW: Here's why you should head to the Paris Plages
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Culture
What's on in France: Still plenty to see and do in July
Lifestyle
Treasures of Versailles to go on display in Australia
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Nice attack: What we know so far
National
Nice attacker: Body-building, drug-taking, violent flirt
National
IN IMAGES: Drawings in tribute to Nice attack victims
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Promenade des Anglais: The iconic heart of the French Riviera
France faces more questions after latest deadly attack
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Why is France the target of choice for jihadist attacks?
National
Nice truck attack: 'Bodies went flying like bowling pins'
Nice attack: Families of missing make pleas on Twitter
Politics
Boris Johnson cheered and booed at Bastille Day party
2,769
jobs available