Ex-soldier who tried to smuggle Afghan girl from Calais migrant camp to UK is spared jail in France

, by Laura Ikeji

He had admitted trying to smuggle Bahar Ahmadi - known as Bru - away from the squalid Calais refugee campand into Britain.


Spared Jail: Ex-soldier Rob Lawrie arrives for to attend a news conference

The dad-of-four had met Bru while he was taking aid to refugees at the camp, which is home to at least 4,200 migrants trying to get to Britain.

Before his case began yesterday he arrived at a press conference with Bru in his arms.

As she sat on his knee, he told reporters: "What you're looking at here is a waste of life.

"She's living in a refugee camp.

"People call it smuggling - they called me a trafficker.

Read more: Fishermen hear migrant screams as 18 die in boat tragedy off Turkish coast

"But I see it as rescuing her."

He has described Bahar was just "an innocent little girl who had lost the 'birth lottery'."

The unemployed carpet cleaner ended up in court after he was stopped at theborder when sniffer dogs reacted to his vehicle on October 23rd.

French police were alerted, as unknown to Mr Lawrie, two Eritreans had sneaked onto his transit van.

He had tucked Bru in to a sleeping compartment with her teddy bear after her father, Reza, had begged him to take her to Leeds, where she hadrelatives living legally.


Refugee: Mr Lawrie tried to smuggle Afghani girl Bahar Ahmadi to UK

The court heard about the devastating impact his arrest has had on his life.

His wife Jane, 41, left him, his business failed and he tried to kill himself.

Lawrie told the court: "One night, I think it was November 6 or November 7, I decided I would do what my brother had done.

"My brother also committed suicide."

Read more: Migrant who walked 31 miles through Channel Tunnel has been granted asylum

He also told them he had a long medical history of bipolar disorder and Tourette's syndrome.

But he rejected the idea that he wastrafficking for money, telling the judge: "Her father is a farmer from Afghanistan.

"He doesn't have any money whatsoever.

"I have not only raised many thousands of pounds - I have put thousands of my own money into this.


Relief: the ex-soldier was spared jail but claims his life has been wrecked

"There is no way I would ever do this for money.

"She is four years old with a family who live near me and I had bonded with them.

"She was sleeping in a tent and she is a very clever girl."

He added that Bru had been "warm and safe" where she was hidden.

Lawrie told the court he had acted stupidly and irrationally in hiding Bru in the sleeping compartment.

He said he had crossed between France and the UK many times previously while helping refugees and had refused her father's constant pleas to take her to Britain.

Read more: Police swoop on Calais Jungle as 'Molotov cocktail-wielding migrants battle right wing group'

But via an interpreter he told the judge: "That night I just could not leave her there any more.

"It was wrong. It was the most stupid conceived plan."

Judge Louis-Benoit Betermiez ordered him to pay the fine for endangering the child's life but suspended it for five years as long as Mr Lawrie commits no further crime in France.