‘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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue