British aid worker who 'smuggled' 4yo Afghan refugee gets suspended €1,000 fine
A British ex-soldier who tried to smuggle a four-year-old Afghan girl into Britain at her father’s request has been handed a €1,000 suspended fine, but will not face a jail term.
Rob Lawrie, 49, admitted trying to get Bahar into the UK when he appeared in court in Boulogne on Thursday.
The former solider from Leeds faced up to five years in prison after being charged with organizing unlawful immigration by French authorities.
Brilliant news for #RobLawrie. So glad the judge saw sense. Now if only we can get all the unaccompanied minors to safety in England ❤— Dulwich2Dunkirk (@Dulwich2Dunkirk) January 14, 2016
The suspended fine – which was handed to Lawrie because he failed to transport the girl in a child seat with a belt – means he will only have to pay it if he commits another offence in France.
Speaking outside the court in Boulogne, Lawrie said he was “elated” by the judgement.
“Compassion will always win,” he said.
Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, with the girl sitting on his lap, Lawrie said he feared “being made an example of” by the court.
#RobLawrie So pleased with this result, you didn't deserve jail, great news for you and your family!— Ang Gillespie (@Angeleena25) January 14, 2016
“They see the media attention I have been getting, and I think it could go one of two ways.”
He added: “France has an opportunity to show, as I know they are, a compassionate country.”
Lawrie said he regretted his actions and warned others against taking the risk.
“Don’t do it. On a personal level it will ruin your life,” he said.
Lawrie has paid a heavy price for his actions, having separated from his wife, lost his job and three stone in weight and become financially bankrupt.
Speaking to RT in November, he described the child as “absolutely beautiful” and said the circumstances that had befallen her in the camp were simply “not right.”
As he prepared to make his way back to Britain on October 24, he said he couldn’t leave her behind to face winter in the Jungle.
“At that moment in time at 10 o’clock at night under the stars by camp fire, I couldn’t leave her there,” he said.