Teacher Jeremy Forrest jailed for five and a half years for child abduction and child sex offences after running away to France with pupil

The judge says Forrest's behaviour had 'been motivated by self-interest and has hurt and damaged many people'

The mother of the teenage girl who fled to France with her teacher has said she felt her daughter was “dead” to her as a result of the illicit relationship.

She spoke out as Jeremy Forrest was jailed for five-and-a-half years yesterday after admitting having sex with a child. Forrest, 30, was described by a judge at Lewes Crown Court as motivated by self-interest and told he had hurt and damaged everyone around him in his determination to abuse the 15-year-old and evade justice.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, wept when her former teacher was found guilty on Thursday, telling him: “I’m sorry.”

Forrest had intended to argue that, as the age of consent in France is 15, he had committed no crime.

Yesterday, following complex legal proceedings in both France and at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, he waived his rights under the terms of his extradition and admitted five counts of sexual activity with a child, boosting his sentence by four-and-a-half years. He had earlier been found guilty of abduction at the end of an eight-day trial.

Sitting in the public gallery without her daughter, who has moved out of the family home, the girl’s mother said the family had been ripped apart.

She said her daughter was angry and blamed her for what had happened, creating a break down of trust.

“I feel the [daughter] I knew is dead and it upsets me beyond words,” she said. “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,” she said in a witness impact statement.

Judge Michael Lawson QC told Forrest it had been his duty as a teacher to stop the girl’s infatuation with him. Instead he had deliberately encouraged it: “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,” he said.

Judge Lawson put him on the sex offenders register and imposed a Sexual Offences Prevention Order banning Forrest, a former teacher at Bishop Bell Church of England School in Eastbourne, East Sussex, from future unsupervised contact with children.  He will begin his sentence at Lewes Prison. As a sex offender he will spend most of his time in jail in a vulnerable prisoner unit.

The NSPCC said warning signals had been ignored by the school’s staff.

David Tucker, associate head of policy at the charity, said: “Some of his colleagues knew about the unhealthy relationship but did not intervene to prevent it escalating to abduction.”

A review by the Local Safeguarding Children Board will now examine the lessons learned from the case.

Forrest groomed the girl for several months and started having sex with her shortly after her 15th birthday. The couple exchanged indecent images and were seen holding hands on a school trip. When police began to make inquiries seven months after initial concerns were raised, Forrest abducted the child, escaping to France and sparking a major man hunt. He spent seven days on the run with the girl but was eventually spotted after trying to get a job in a bar in Bordeaux.

Forrest’s family said he was “very sorry” for his actions. In a statement they said:  “Despite the verdict and today’s sentence, there are many factors in this case which need to be examined and addressed, including the failure to properly act on early warnings.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick