1. ITV Report

Court case underway - teacher denies child abduction

Teacher Jeremy Forrest arriving at Lewes Crown Court Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

A court has heard that a married teacher at a school in East Sussex fled to France with a 15-year-old-girl who had a crush on him the day after she was questioned by police about their sexual relationship.

It was alleged at Lewes Crown Court, that fearing their relationship was about to be exposed, Jeremy Forrest, aged 30, of Chislehurst Rd in Petts Wood in Kent, booked himself and the girl on a cross-channel ferry to Calais, with the two then spending seven days on the run in September 2012. Mr Forrest was a maths teacher at the Bishop Bell Church of England School in Eastbourne.

Jurors heard that the relationship could not be compared to Romeo & Juliet, but amounted to Mr Forrest committing a "gross and long-term breach of trust".

The court was told that once the teacher and the girl were in France they dyed their hair to avoid being detected; that Mr Forrest set up a French email account, bought a French mobile phone, and that the two made fake CVs in an internet cafe to help them find work.

The Prosecutor Richard Barton said that Jeremy Forrest used the alias Jack Dean on his CV, and the girl also used a false name on her bogus CV. The court was told that Mr Forrest was recognised from media reports by an English bar owner to whom he had applied for work. This led to teacher and the girl, who can not be named for legal reasons, being caught in Bordeaux on 28th September 2012.

"This is not Romeo and Juliet; this is a 15-year-old girl with her own vulnerabilities, and a 30-year-old teacher. When parents send their children to school, they quite properly expect that those who teach their children will care for them properly."

"This case, the prosecution say, is about a gross and long-term breach of trust on the part of this defendant, not only of trust placed in him by the girl's mother and her family but also of other teachers and the governors of that school."

– Prosecutor Richard Barton, speaking to Lewes Crown Court

Mr Barton said that while the girl was a willing participant in the couple fleeing the UK, that can not be used by Mr Forrest as a defence to the charges he faces. He added that the couple's disappearance had led to several anxious days for the girl's family and involved intensive searches by authorities on both sides of the English Channel.

Mr Forrest denies child abduction. The trial continues.