• France's news in English
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
Saudi princess 'told guard to kill Paris decorator'
Photo: Eurovizion/Flickr

"You have to kill this dog, he doesn't deserve to live," the princess allegedly said.

Paying for sex in France: Has the new law been effective?

Around 40 sex buyers are caught each month across the whole of France. Does that sound like much?

Only in France: 'Drive slowly - grape juice on the roads'
Photo: Rexness/Flickr

You know you're in France when...

France gives lift off to tough new drone laws
Photo: AFP

Time to crack down on drones, say French lawmakers.

Bienvenue en France: France cuts red tape for UK firms
Photo: AFP

France is ready to roll out the red carpet for UK firms quitting Britain because of Brexit fears.

VIDEO: Is life on a French café terrace really this bad?
Photo: Canal Plus

Bird poo, bums and butts: Is life on les terraces really as bad as this?

'Five terror plots thwarted' on Riviera since Nice attack
A police boat patrols the waters off the beach in Nice during the summer. Photo: AFP

Authorities in Nice say five potentially deadly terror plots on the French Riviera have been foiled since the Bastille Day truck attack in the resort.

French firefighters calendar to provoke global palpitations
Photo: Fred Goudon

Warning: Some readers may suffer palpitations, sweats or other side-effects when reading this story.

Why Paris beach festival could be sand-free in future
Photo: AFP

Is a beach with no sand still a beach?

Lost without translation: The struggles of Calais migrants
Communication problems in the Calais jungle camp. Photo: AFP

So many languages are spoken in the Calais jungle migrant camp but French is rarely heard.

Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
The crazy French writing phrases you can't get your head around
Room for improvement: Paris's matchbox apartments
'Stop telling immigrants to be French and help it happen'
Take the test: How far have you assimilated into French culture?
Eleven things you should know before moving to Paris
France's Marion Cotillard rebuffs rumours of fling with Brad Pitt
Eight arrested over links to Nice truck attacker
Why everyone should party in a French chateau at least once
The Frenchman who hated 'Nazi-Zealand' after four-day hitch-hike fail
What's on: Ten exciting events across France in September
The 45-million year old underground shells that flavour Champagne
French job speak: All the terms you need to know
'Resilient' Paris now a more appealing city than New York
France says it's OK to warn drivers about speed cameras
Meet Honorine, 113, the oldest person in France
Grenoble named France's best city to be a student
New Metro map reveals cheapest pints of beer in Paris
Business & Money
How reliant is the French economy on Paris?
Here's why Parisians want to move to Bordeaux
And the 'best place to spend a weekend in Europe' is… Lyon
Analysis & Opinion
'Muslims in France must be considered ordinary citizens'
Armed guards to ride French trains from October
France among Europe's priciest for train travel
jobs available