Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Teacher plans to marry schoolgirl

Jeremy Forrest was jailed at Lewes Crown Court for five and a half years on Friday for child abduction and sexual activity with a child

Teacher Jeremy Forrest plans to marry the schoolgirl he abducted, and her father said he would be "proud" to walk her down the aisle.

The girl, who has written to Forrest's parents to declare her love for their son, also intends to visit him in prison.

Forrest, 30, was jailed at Lewes Crown Court for five and a half years on Friday for child abduction and five charges of sexual activity with a child, after he fled to France with the girl when she was 15. But Forrest's sister Carrie Hanspaul, 33, told the Mail On Sunday that during a prison visit he told his parents: "I love her and we want to get married."

The girl has already spoken of her determination to keep her relationship with Forrest going, and her father told The Sun Sunday that he condoned her plans to see him in prison, saying he wanted to as well.

The teenager's father told the newspaper: "My daughter had a very unsettled family life when she was growing up. It would be a dream for her to settle down and marry the man she loves. She would want to do it all properly. I'd be proud to walk my daughter down the aisle with the man she loves. I honestly believe he loves my daughter and she's besotted with him. She has made it clear she wants a future with him.

"Hopefully with good behaviour he may be freed on parole after a few years. If they have a future together that's fine by me and they would have my blessing. I should hate him for what he's done but I don't - in fact, I'd like to meet him. I'd like to visit him in prison, shake his hand and say, 'Thanks for looking after my daughter'. I would be nice to him."

Ms Hanspaul said her brother had been "vulnerable" at the time of his offences, and described as being immature and someone who "hadn't fully grown up yet", as if he was in his "early 20s rather than 30". She said she felt protective towards the girl, and comforted her in the moments after the jury returned the guilty verdict in court last week, the Mail on Sunday said.

Ms Hanspaul said she didn't see the age difference and relationship between her brother and the girl as "predatory or grooming", and that Forrest had told their father that he is happier now than he has been for a couple of years.

The teenager has written a letter to Forrest's parents, in which she apologises for "any upset I have caused" and makes clear that her feelings for him cannot be changed, the Mail On Sunday said.

In a five-page note, she says: "I can't emphasise enough how everything I feel towards Jeremy is - more than anything - serious... he is wonderful... Obviously I now and will continue in the future to stand by him. I do believe that some things are worth fighting for. For now, though, I'm going to concentrate on working hard to get the future both me and Jeremy want and I'm preparing for college."

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