‘I love you,’ maths teacher guilty of abduction tells pupil in court

Jury dismisses Jeremy Forrest’s claim he took 15-year-old girl to France to keep her safe

A maths teacher who ran away to France with a 15-year-old pupil mouthed “I love you” to her as he was found guilty of her abduction.

Jeremy Forrest, 30, who gave no testimony in his defence during his eight-day trial at Lewes Crown Court, betrayed no emotion after a jury took two hours to convict him following evidence from prosecutors that he was a “paedophile” and had groomed his teenage victim.

The schoolgirl, who had only just turned 15 when the sexual relationship began with Forrest, burst into tears in when the guilty verdict was delivered and said “I’m sorry” to the teacher as he was led down to the cells.

The pair began a four-month affair after the pupil, who cannot be named, developed a crush on the teacher at the Bishop Bell Church of England secondary school in Eastbourne, East Sussex. They fled to France last September when their relationship was about to be exposed and spent a week on the run before Forrest was arrested by detectives in Bordeaux.

In a statement read outside court, the girl’s mother said: “As a family, for the last nine months it’s been like living out your worst nightmare. Every aspect of our lives has been affected to some degree.”

Forrest, who was married and told his wife Emily that he loved her the night before he disappeared with the schoolgirl, had claimed through his lawyers that the teenager was “desperate and suicidal” and he had accompanied her across the Channel to prevent her coming to harm.

But jurors refused to believe the teacher after prosecutors said he had targeted the vulnerable teenager to satisfy his “carnal desires” and his actions amounted to a gross breach of trust. On one occasion he phoned his victim’s mother to assure her there was no truth to rumours that he was having a relationship with her daughter.In reality, Forrest would pick the girl up in her uniform and they would have sex in his car, in hotels and at his marital home.

Speaking outside court, the deputy chief crown prosecutor Portia Ragnouth said: “Not only did he breach the trust and confidence that all the parents at that school had placed in him, he also brought disgrace to his profession who are trusted to look after the children in their care.”

The disappearance of the pair led to a Europe-wide search and they were eventually found after Forrest approached the owner of an English bar in Bordeaux seeking work with a falsified CV .

East Sussex County Council said it was working with Forrest’s victim and her family to provide support.

The Bishop Bell School has previously been affected by other sex scandals involving people linked to it. In 2009, Robert Healy, a supply teacher at the school, was jailed for seven years after he groomed two pupils via a social networking site into having sex with him. But a review of the school’s safeguarding standards following the Forrest case found there was no evidence of “significant or systemic” failings.

Forrest, whose father collapsed in court shortly before the verdict, is due to be sentenced this morning.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?