Rob Lawrie, 49, was cleared of all charges relating to aiding illegal immigration
An aid worker caught trying to smuggle a four-year-old Afghan girl into the UK from France has avoided jail.
Father-of-four Rob Lawrie, 49, who admitted attempting to get Bahar Ahmadi - known as Bru - into Britain hidden in his van, was cleared of all charges relating to aiding illegal immigration.
The ex-soldier was handed a suspended €1,000 fine by the French judge court for endangering the girl's life by not having her in a child seat with a belt.
However, he will not have to pay it unless he commits another offence in France.
The ruling was greeted with a huge round of applause from supporters of Mr Lawrie, who broke down in tears in court.
Speaking outside the court in Boulogne, Mr Lawrie said he was "elated".
He said: "Compassion has been in the dock here.
"France has sent out a message that when compassion is done from the heart, not to make money, not to benefit from it but when it is done really from the heart, France has sent out a message that compassion will win."
Earlier, Mr Lawrie said he had been prepared to go to jail after apologising and expressing regret for his "irrational" actions.
Asked about the possibility of prison ahead of the court hearing Mr Lawrie said: "I will take that on the chin."
He said: "I made an irrational choice.
"I am sorry, I regret it. I wouldn't do it again."
The former Army physical training instructor has said he was helping build shelters in The Jungle camp in Calais when he got to know Bru.
After declining numerous requests by her father to take her to close family in Leeds, he finally agreed.
Mr Lawrie was stopped in Calais as he returned home in October.
British sniffer dogs found two Eritrean men who, unbeknown to him, had stowed away in the back of his vehicle.
Speaking previously to Sky News, Mr Lawrie said: "The conditions at the camp were horrendous and I knew she shouldn’t be living like that.
"Morally and compassionately I was getting this little girl out of severe danger to a family that could love her, pay for her, educate her."
Since his arrest, Mr Lawrie said his life had fallen apart and he felt "numb".
But he added: "I will take responsibility of what I did. I didn’t think it through. I didn’t think of the consequences."
Mr Lawrie said he was compelled to head to Calais to help refugees after he saw images of a drowned Syrian toddler who was found on a beach in Turkey.
"It was that moment that took me from being a passive supporter of refugees to an active supporter of refugees," he said.
Thousands of people have signed petitions calling for clemency for Mr Lawrie.