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A mother's agony over estranged daughter as teacher Jeremy Forrest sent to jail

BY Pat Hurst

Jeremy Forrest was told he had been "motivated by self-interest" by the judge who jailed the teacher for grooming a 15-year-old pupil for sex and then abducting her.

Judge Michael Lawson sentenced Forrest to four-and-a-half years for five offences of sexual activity with a child and one year for the offence of child abduction, to run consecutively.

His victim's mother has described how the 30-year-old teacher "robbed her daughter of her childhood".

In a dramatic twist, Forrest waived his rights under extradition laws which had prevented him from being tried for sexual offences, paving the way for him to be sentenced for all offences. He was found guilty of child abduction after an eight-day trial.

The jury heard that he had groomed the girl into having sex with him before taking her to France with him.

Judge Michael Lawson told Forrest: "Your behaviour in this period has been motivated by self-interest and has hurt and damaged many people – her family, your family, staff and pupils at the school and respect for teachers everywhere." Forrest, wearing a grey suit, white shirt and tie, showed no emotion but nodded to his family as he was taken down.

Judge Lawson also imposed a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (Sopo) on Forrest, banning him from working or volunteering with children and unsupervised contact with children forever.

He was also ordered to sign the sex offenders' register.

In court on Thursday the defendant, who remained stony-faced, turned to his victim and said "I love you" as the verdict was about to be announced.

Richard Barton, prosecuting, read a victim impact statement provided by the girl's mother.

The court heard she had fallen out with her daughter, who moved from her home two months ago.

The girl was not in court for the sentencing hearing but was present when Forrest was convicted.

Her mother, who was sitting in the public gallery, said in her statement: "I feel the (daughter) I knew is dead and it upsets me beyond words. I feel completely useless most of the time. I feel like I have failed as a parent as I cannot understand how someone could do this to my child and I had no idea.

"I feel like part of (her) childhood has been robbed from me – the last day at school, dressing her up in a party dress for the school prom, all taken from us."

She added: "My relationship will never be the same again. She is aiming all her anger at me, that she has to give evidence in court.

"She thinks she cannot trust me again and she has gone to live elsewhere."

Forrest befriended his "vulnerable" victim when she was just 14.

She had just turned 15 when he started having sex with her, having groomed her for several months after she developed a crush on him at Bishop Bell CofE School in Eastbourne.

The alarm was then raised.

Fearing they were about to be discovered, Forrest, of Petts Wood, Kent, booked them on a cross-Channel ferry from Dover to Calais in September.

They spent seven days on the run in France but were caught when a British bar owner in Bordeaux contacted police after recognising Forrest.

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