Aid worker awaits French court decision on bid to smuggle Afghan girl to UK


British Man Faces 5 Years In Prison

An aid worker and former soldier is expected to learn today whether he will be jailed for trying to smuggle a four-year-old Afghan girl from France to Britain.

Father-of-four Rob Lawrie, 49, has said he will admit illegally trying to get Bahar Ahmadi - known as Bru - into the UK hidden in his van, when he appears in court in Boulogne.

Mr Lawrie, from Guiseley, Leeds, was stopped in Calais as he returned home in October. The former Army physical training instructor said he was helping build shelters in The Jungle camp when he got to know Bru and her father asked him to help get her to close family members living legally in Leeds.

He was caught when British sniffer dogs found two Eritrean men who, unbeknown to him, had also stowed in the back of his van.

French police arrested him over the stowaways and it was only when he was handcuffed in custody that he had to tell the authorities to go back to the van and look for Bru.

Earlier this week he explained how French police appeared to believe his story when they took Bru into the detention centre and she ran over to give him a cuddle.

The former Royal Corps of Transport soldier this week described his actions in October as a "moment of madness", but hopes the court will see that he "just tried to help a little girl".

Fellow refugee volunteer Jim Innes, who got to known Mr Lawrie through Facebook, started a UK petition on his behalf which gained more than 52,000 signatures asking the Government to intercede and was delivered to the Foreign Office last week.

A second petition open to people outside the UK has been signed by around 116,000 people, Mr Innes added.