Police searching for a missing schoolgirl who is believed to be in France with a teacher said today that the pair failed to use their return ferry tickets.
Megan Stammers, 15, and her teacher Jeremy Forrest, 30, are believed to have left the UK on a ferry on Thursday evening. They were due to return yesterday but have not used their tickets police said today.
Speaking at a press conference today the emotional parents of the missing girl pleaded with her to come home.
The 15-year-old's mother Danielle Wilson said: “Sweetheart I don't care what you've done or why, I just want you home.”
Mr Forrest, who is believed to be with Megan, is a maths teach at the Bishop Bell C of E School in Eastbourne, East Sussex, which she attends.
The alarm was raised on Friday after Megan failed to appear at school.
Chief Inspector Jason Tingley from Sussex Police said: “We believe that you left on your own accord with Jeremy but we need to hear that you are OK. Your family and friends are extremely worried, but you are not in any trouble.
“My message to Mr Forrest is that this may not have gone as you expected it to. Right now our priority it to know that Megan is safe and I would ask you to do the right thing and make contact with us.
“We will work with you to get you both safely back into the country.”
Today Megan's parents in an emotionally charged press conference said her disappearance was out of character: “She is always in at 7pm, she is not one of these kids to roam the streets, she doesn't go out drinking or anything like that. She doesn't like the dark so she had never been out after dark,” Ms Wilson said.
She added: “It is completely out of character, this is not her, she is not like this.”
Ms Wilson also spoke of her daughter's behaviour ahead of her disappearance, saying she was “really happy, jumping around” before she disappeared.
“She said to me, 'Mum can you look me in the eye?'. I looked her in the eye and she said, 'I love you'.”
Mr Stammer said today that Megan had sent him a text message last Tuesday arranging to meet him. They had arranged to meet on Saturday, but she did not turn up. It is believed she had already left for France.
“We had a date on Saturday, we didn't make it. Babes, that offer's still there sweetheart,” he said.
“(I) just want you to come home safe and well, babes please.”
Describing her as “everything you would want in a daughter”, he added: “We are a family unit working together, strength is coming from within all of us, as a family, our close friends (are) striving so hard.
“I would like to thank the people supporting us out there on the social networks, Twitter, Facebook. Please keep posting, keep tweeting, please keep retweeting.”
Megan's mother appealed to her daughter to come home saying: “Please darling, just do anything - text me, ring me, send me a message. I've sent you a message on Facebook, just do anything. The phone number hasn't changed at home, just ring, please sweetheart.”
She said the 15-year-old can be “very childlike” and is “affectionate and loving” and had “never brought any trouble to my door”.
Chief Inspector Jason Tingley from Sussex Police appealed to members of the public who might come across Mr Forrest's black Ford Fiesta, registration GJ08 RJO, to contact French or British police immediately.
Ms Wilson today described her daughter as “a typical girl, she is very, very girly. She like her make-up, she likes her hair. She loves nicking my combs and things like that.”
She described Megan as intelligent, adding: “But then she can be very child-like. She strokes my head and tells me I am cute.
“She is is affectionate, she is loving. She is just so lovely and cute and caring.
“She has never brought trouble to my door.”
Today a blog post, seemingly written by Mr Forrest under his stage name Jeremy Ayre, came to light. In it the author writes about a 'moral dilemma' in a posting four months ago headed “You hit me just like heroin”.
Posted on May 19, it says: “The last two weeks have been pretty intense, in both a good and a bad way!!!
“I'll touch on the bad, although it will have to be a bit vague to be public-ally digestible, but have lots of positive music related s*** to shoot...
“About a week ago I had a bit of a moral dilemma to deal with, both internally and externally. And the over-riding question it left me with was this: 'How do we, and how should we, define what is right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable???'
“I came to a few different conclusions, mainly that actually we get a lot of things wrong, but at the end of the day I was satisfied that if you can look at yourself in the mirror and know that, under all the front, that you are a good person, that should have faith in your own judgment.
“That's some philosophical gold for you there!!!”
Social media has been instrumental in the campaign to try and find Megan with Facebook and Twitter both being utilised by Megan's parents and her sister.
East Sussex County Council and Bishop Bell CofE School said they had begun an investigation and were working closely with the police.
Terry Boatwright, the school's executive head teacher, said: “The whole school community is deeply concerned for Megan and shocked by what has happened.
“The thoughts and prayers of us all are with Megan and her family at this time.
“We would urge her to get in touch with her family to let them know she is okay and we would echo the police's call for anyone with information to contact them.”