A woman is hoping to help with legal fees for her French friend who faces jail after being caught with a bullet that he was given as a gift as he crossed the Belarus-Ukraine border.
Fiona Parker, who runs Stamford Tableware Hire, met Jolan Viaud after offering her home as a location for people visiting the Burghley Horse Trials last year and they became friends.
Just a year later, on September 21, Jolan, 24, was detained by police as he was crossing the border from Ukraine to Belarus. He was charged with importing war ammunition and his trial is due to start on Wednesday.
If found guilty, he could be jailed for between three to seven years.
But Fiona, 60, who lives in Collyweston believes Jolan does not deserve to go to jail as he didn’t know the law of the country. She is worried about his health and wellbeing as she believes conditions in Belarus prisons are “brutal”.
Appealing to people to donate, Fiona said: “I am not saying he is innocent. He was carrying live ammunition into the country and there is a law against that but I think that most people would understand that if he did it without realising then he doesn’t deserve jail.
“Most people make mistakes but very few suffer these type of consequences.
“I think if he knew he was going to be in prison I don’t think he would have it.”
A message on Jolan’s fundraising page, set up by his family, reads:“On a tourist trip to Eastern Europe, he had a bullet in his possession that a Polish friend had offered him, for him it was only a souvenir of a trip, in good faith he declared it himself, even at the frontier.”
Fiona added: “It is an exciting thing for him to be given but he obviously didn’t understand what would happen if he got caught. He is gentle and thoughtful. He wanted to find himself and went travelling.
“Have you got a friend or a son, or a brother who loves to travel? How much do you know about travelling in this part of the world? He is young, we all make mistakes.
“If you could possibly help please do.”
To donate visit https://cagnotte.me/674-help-for-jolan