Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Teacher 'was concerned' for girl

A schoolgirl allegedly abducted to France by her married maths teacher has told a court that he came with her because he feared she might commit suicide.

The girl was aged 15 when she started a sexual relationship with Jeremy Forrest, 30, after developing a crush on him at Bishop Bell C of E School in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

Fearing they were about to be exposed, Forrest booked them on a cross-Channel ferry from Dover to Calais on September 20 last year before spending seven days on the run in France.

The girl, now aged 16, said that she had been experiencing personal problems in the months up to the relationship with Forrest. This included her mother going through a divorce and then her mother falling pregnant with a new partner.

The court heard the pair agreed to go to France after the girl had her phone seized by police investigating rumours of a relationship between them. The girl said she planned to run away but Forrest agreed to come with her to prevent her from getting into danger.

She said: "He tried to persuade me not to run away."

She added: "I said I was going and nobody was going to stop me. I was very determined and once I had an idea in my head nobody was going to stop me, not Jeremy, not anybody."

She continued: "He was concerned that if I went on my own I would be in danger, it would be a better idea if he came with me. I was very pleased."

She added: "If Jeremy had said he wasn't coming with me, I would have dreaded what kind of situation I would have been in."

Describing her mood at the time, she said: "I felt very low indeed, I didn't know what to do, I was very desperate." When asked if she felt suicidal by defence counsel Ronald Jaffa, the girl, who chose to give her evidence in court for the first time rather than by videolink, said: "Yes".

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