'I love you' ... teacher Jeremy Forrest's words to schoolgirl lover as he is found guilty of her abduction
A teacher who groomed a 15-year-old girl before taking her to France when he was about to be exposed has been found guilty of child abduction.
A jury took less than two hours to convict Jeremy Forrest following an eight-day trial at Lewes Crown Court.
The 30-year-old defendant, who remained stony-faced, turned to the girl and said "I love you" as the verdict was about to be announced.
The girl sobbed and said "I am sorry" as he was led back to the cells.
The trial heard how the pupil had just turned 15 when Forrest started having sex with her, having groomed the vulnerable teenager after she developed a crush on him at Bishop Bell Church of England School in Eastbourne, East Sussex.
Fearing they were about to be discovered, Forrest, of Chislehurst Road, Petts Wood, Kent, 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.
Teachers were first made aware of concerns about their relationship after a school trip to Los Angeles in February 2012. They were seen by several pupils to be holding hands during the return flight.
Forrest failed to heed words of advice from senior staff members and went on to continue his relationship with the girl.
Richard Barton, prosecuting, said Forrest's actions were an abuse of trust. He said Forrest could be labelled a "paedophile" who had groomed the vulnerable teenager.
Ronald Jaffa, defending, said the girl was "desperate and suicidal" and Forrest had gone with her to France to prevent her coming to harm.
Judge Michael Lawson QC adjourned the case for sentencing today.