Aid worker who tried to smuggle Afghan girl from Calais 'Jungle' camp avoids jail

An aid worker from Leeds who tried to smuggle an Afghan girl into the UK from the Calais 'Jungle' camp has been spared a jail sentence. Rob Lawrie has been handed a €1000 fine suspended sentence by a judge in the French city of Boulogne.

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Volunteer aid worker walks free from smuggling charge

A volunteer aid worker from West Yorkshire has walked free from a French court after admitting that his decision to take a little girl from the Calais Jungle was "irrational".

Rob Lawrie from Leeds broke down in front of the three judges presiding over the case, as he told how last October in what he called a moment of compassion, he agreed to take a four-year-old Afghan girl to relatives in Yorkshire.

He had faced five years behind bars, but following a three-hour hearing he was instead given a suspended fine. Jon Hill was in Boulogne for the court appearance.


Rob Lawrie appears at press conference alongside four-year-old girl hours before court hearing

An aid worker from Leeds who tried to smuggle an Afghan girl into the UK from the Calais 'Jungle' camp has once again apologised for his actions.

Former soldier Rob Lawrie appeared at a press conference hours before a court hearing where he will find if he will serve a prison sentence. With him, was four-year-old Bahar, nicknamed Bru.

The small Sunday schoolroom was packed to bursting with media representatives from across the world. In explaining his actions that led to taking the little girl he said; "I looked can you leave that? There was no rational thought."

Rob Lawrie with Bahar Ahmadi at the press conference today. Credit: ITV News

Answering questions about how he has been perceived in the media "people call it smuggling, others have said I was a trafficker. I was rescuing her."

But, nevertheless, he could be starting a jail term this evening of up to five years "I will know whether it was worth it when I contemplate it behind bars".

Mr Lawrie will be sentenced after a two hours hearing in front of magistrates in the French city of Boulogne later.

Would I do it again? Selfishly no, because it has cost me too much. People call it smuggling - they called me a trafficker. But I see it as rescuing.

I am sorry. I regret it. I wouldn't do it again. I've said it was an irrational decision - but look what has happened on the back of it. We have shown the human side of the suffering of refugees. This is not about me, it was never about me. We have changed the perception.

The father (of Babar Ahmadi) is here. He feels guilty that I've got in to so much trouble.

– Rob Lawrie


Volunteer aid worker returns to Calais Jungle before sentencing

A volunteer aid worker who tried to bring a four-year-old girl into the UK from a migrant camp in Calais has returned there for the first time since he was arrested.

Rob Lawrie from Guiseley says his attempt to hide the little girl in his van to offer her a better life with her relatives in Leeds was a moment of madness.

Tomorrow he'll appear in court in France and could face five years in jail for people smuggling. Today he returned to the camp where he took a decision which has changed his life.

Jon Hill has an exclusive report from Calais.

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