BREAKING (Today’s 21/06/13 Update): Teacher Jeremy Forrest jailed for five and a half years for child abduction and child sex offences
The married maths teacher Jeremy Forrest has been jailed for five and a half years for abducting a 15-year-old girl and five charges of sexual activity with a child.
The 30-year-old admitted to the child sex offences today in court after being found guilty of child abduction yesterday at Lewes Crown Court.
Forrest has also been banned from working with children for life.
Forrest was a caring and popular teacher who “succumbed” to affections of schoolgirl (Reuters)
The jury of eight men and four returned a unanimous verdict just two hours after retiring at Lewes Crown Court.
Forrest, 30, a teacher at Bishop Bell Church of England School in Eastbourne, abducted a 15-year-old pupil to France last September, sparking an international manhunt.
The pair were eventually apprehended in Bordeaux after eight days on the run.
Married Forrest, from Petts Wood, Kent, did not react when the verdict was read out. He will be sentenced later this afternoon.
The schoolgirl at the centre of the case, who is now 16, was sitting at the back of the court and buried her face in her hands.
Forrest reportedly turned and mouthed “I love you” to her.
Forrest opted not to give evidence in his defence during the eight day case but was accused by the prosecution of grooming the teenager to “satisfy his own carnal lusts”.
The court heard that Forrest told the girl he loved her last May, when she was still 14, before instigating their first kiss in his classroom and later sleeping with her regularly.
The pair were said to have had sex in Forrest’s marital home, in local hotels and in his car.
The jury heard they had sex up to eight times a night and exchanged explicit photographs via text message.
Richard Barton, prosecuting, said Forrest had abused his position of trust and had not acted with the consent of the girl’s parents.
He described Forrest as a “coward” who was solely motivated by his own desires.
Ronald Jaffa, defending, claimed that Forrest had “succumbed” to the affections of the schoolgirl when he was at a low ebb and his marriage collapsed.
An East Sussex County Council spokesman said it was working closely with the teenager and her family and providing a range of support.
“East Sussex County Council expects very high professional standards from people working with children; similarly parents rightly expect exemplary behaviour from teachers who are entrusted with the education of their children,” he said.
“The importance of appropriate relationship boundaries between staff and pupils cannot be overstated and we will not tolerate any behaviour that does not respect those boundaries.”