Jeremy Forrest trial: Maths teacher 'looked up' possible length of prison sentence

30-year-old accused of abducting 15-year-old schoolgirl to France

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The Independent Online

Jeremy Forrest, the maths teacher accused of abducting a schoolgirl in France, attempted to discover what jail sentence he would face for having sex with a child if he returned to Britain, a court heard.

Jurors at Lewes Crown Court were told that the married Forrest, 30, from Kent, had looked up what punishment he could face on returning to Britain while he and a 15-year-old girl were hiding in France last year.

A video of a police interview with the girl, now 16, was played to the court where the teenager said they both wrote journals to “document everything” while preparing CVs to apply for jobs on the run.  

She told detectives that Forrest, who denies child abduction charges, went busking and they both dyed their hair avoid detection as the police forces searched for them. She added: "He did look up how many years he would be in prison, not for taking me to France but what had previously happened, and he told me that."

Forming a relationship with the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was yesterday said to have been a “risk he was willing to take” at Bishop Bell C of E School in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

Forrest allegedly told the girl in France: “I'm going to prison, I'm going to get caught, I'm not going to see you.”

The teenager recounted how she and Forrest first kissed in a classroom: “I do remember being in his room and it was just me and him. He said ‘I really want to kiss you’ and I said ‘I really want to’.”

By September police had been alerted to the couple’s romance after a tip-off. An officer and social worker visited the girl’s home to speak to her about what was going on. Jurors heard yesterday that it was that visit that prompted the pair to flee on September 20 on a cross-channel ferry from Dover to Calais where they spent seven days on the run.

The girl said conversation was limited as they fled: “There wasn't much conversation, it was just focusing on getting to Dover and away from England. He was panicking a lot. Normally he was relaxed but his arms were tensing up and just the look on his face.”

The court heard that the girl had sex with Forrest in the spare room of his house, in a Premier Inn hotel and in his car. She said she “felt comfortable” with their sexual relationship, adding that she did not feel “like I’d done anything wrong”.

She added: “After having sex for the first time, it was like a pressure off. I think he was nervous as well. After a few times of having sex we got used to each other. We just liked being around each other.”

When asked by police if she thought or understood there to be a problem with the relationship she was having, she said there was "the teacher thing", adding: "And obviously the age as well."

She told officers that they had interacted on various social media websites, exchanging “sexual photos”.

The case has been adjourned until Friday.