Teacher Jeremy Forrester is jailed for five-and-a-half years for abducting and having sex with a 15-year-old girl. But his laywer tells Channel 4 News he understands the couple may still be in love.
Forrest admitted the sex charges on Friday at Lewes crown court, where he was being sentenced after being convicted of child abduction.
He was not originally charged with sex offences for legal reasons linked to his extradition, but admitted the charges before he was sentenced.
The court heard how the pupil he abducted had just turned 15 when Forrest, 30, started having sex with her.
Judge Michael Lawson banned Forrest from ever working with children again. He said: “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.
“It has damaged you too, but that was something you were prepared to risk. You now have to pay that price.” Forrest’s family said in a statement: “This is a sorry episode for all concerned and Jeremy is very sorry for his actions.
“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.”
Forrest groomed the vulnerable teenager after she developed a crush on him at Bishop Bell C of E School in Eastbourne, East Sussex, where he taught maths.
Fearing they were about to be discovered, Forrest, from Petts Wood, Kent, booked them on a cross-Channel ferry from Dover to Calais in September 2012 before spending seven days on the run in France.
The trial heard that Forrest would pick up the girl in her school uniform and have sex with her in his car, in hotels and at his marital home.
The failire of the police and school to prevent Forrest running off with the girl has come under heavy criticism.
Police were not alerted until seven months after first concerns were raised and then when they were notified they held a meeting, rather than question or arrest Forrest immediately.
Forrest and the girl fled to France the after a police officer and social worker visited her family home.
Richard Barton, prosecuting, told the court on Thursday that Forrest’s actions were an abuse of trust and that he could be labelled a “paedophile”.
He told the jury: “That is not an inappropriate label for him. It is about his desires to have that young sexual flesh, to satisfy his own carnal lusts.”
Ronald Jaffa, defending, said the girl was “desperate and suicidal” and Forrest had gone with her to France to prevent her coming to harm.