British woman jailed in France for smuggling refugee boy

French court hands out three month jail sentence for British woman who was caught in November while sneaking young refugee into UK

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Aerial view of a makeshift camp as containers are put into place to house several hundred refugees living in the "Jungle", a squalid sprawling camp in Calais, northern France, January 17, 2016

A French court on Wednesday handed out a three month jail sentence to a British woman for trying to smuggle a refugee boy from France to UK.

Roisin Bailey, the 41 year old British woman who works as a waitress and escort in the UK, initially faced a year in prison when she was caught in November hiding a 15 year old Syrian refugee in the boot of her car.

The three months of jail will end in February taking into account the time she served in custody. Bailey was also given a five year ban from French soil.

French authorities say she accepted 500 pounds (650 euros) from an Iraqi refugee she met in Calais to smuggle the refugee boy, a charge she denies.

She says she had a relationship with the Iraqi man who asked her for help, took the money for food and trip costs and accepted to help for "humanitarian reasons."

However, the Delphine Mienniel, the prosecuting magistrate, said the Syrian boy doesn’t know the Iraqi man.

The Telegraph reported the British woman as saying at the court that “Being an escort girl doesn’t stop me caring about others.”

“My humanitarian missions are a way of paying something back. I feel compassion for the migrants, I’ve read a lot of articles about them in the papers this summer. Then I looked for associations to help them. Then I brought clothes and shoes to the jungle (camp) in Calais.”

Bailey, a mother of one, had earlier visited the refugee camp in Calais, known as “The Jungle” as a volunteer.

Her lawyer had asked for clemency, as it was provided to Rob Lawrie, who was last week fined only 1,000 euros for putting the child's life in danger, after he tried to smuggle a four-year-old Afghan girl into Britain from a refugee camp on the French coast.

Mienniel said the fact that Bailey had left the boy for more than a hour in the car boot with a bottle of water and a bottle to urinate in while she went shopping is “inhumane,” the Telegraph quoted.

British Robert Lawrie carries four-year-old Afghan refugee Bahar Ahmadi on January 14, 2016 in Boulogne-sur-Mer prior to the start of his trial

Former soldier Rob Lawrie had befriended the refugee girl Bahar and her father as he was volunteering at the camp in northern France.

He said that Bahar’s father asked Lawrie to take Bahar to her relatives who live near his home in Britain.

Lawrie firstly refused but then his paternal instinct could not allow to leave her in what Lawrie described as the “squalid” camp.

"Compassion was in the dock today and France sent out a message that compassion will win," he told reporters after his trial on last Thursday.

The judge said that it was enough to give Lawrie a warning with the suspended sentence.

He will not have to pay the fine unless he commits another offence in France.

TRTWorld and agencies