1. ITV Report

Schoolgirl feared teacher faced prison - full report

Jeremy Forrest arrives at Lewes Crown Court. Photo: PA

A schoolgirl allegedly abducted to France by her married maths teacher was worried that he could be imprisoned for "sexual contact" with her, a friend has told a court.

The girl was 15 when she started a sexual relationship with 30-year-old Jeremy Forrest after developing a crush on him at Bishop Bell C of E School in Eastbourne.

Fearing they were about to be exposed, Forrest booked them on a cross-Channel ferry from Dover to Calais on September 20 last year before spending seven days on the run in France.

Scots-born Forrest, of Chislehurst Road, Petts Wood, Kent, denies child abduction.

A friend of the girl, whose video-recorded police interview was shown to Lewes Crown Court, said lots of rumours went around the school about the teenager's relationship with Forrest.

She said the girl only confirmed her relationship with the teacher to her on the day they fled to France.

She said the girl was worried about what could happen to Forrest if they were caught.

The 16 year old said: "(The girl) was talking about what could happen to Mr Forrest, how long he could go to prison for.

"She was speaking about all the things he could go to prison for - she said sexual contact and she gave like a nod."

The witness said she and another friend were with the girl as Forrest picked her up to take her to France.

She said the girl was calm and added: "She wasn't under any pressure."

She said she thought Forrest looked "ashamed".

She added that when Forrest returned to pick up the girl's toiletries bag, which she had forgotten, he appeared to have been crying.

She said: "He didn't make eye contact at all - he looked like he had been crying as well.

"He said 'Look, I'm sorry'."

Another friend, a 16-year-old boy, said in his video interview that many of the pupils in Forrest's class regarded him as a friend.

He said: "Quite a lot of people in my class and other people thought of him more as a friend rather than a teacher. I liked him."

Speaking about the girl, he added: "She said she had a crush on him and stuff. I thought she thought 'attractive'."

He said the girl told him that she had had sex with the teacher.

He said: "I remember she said that they had had sex and I was like 'You shouldn't be doing that' etc.

"She was like 'No, everything will be fine'."

The mother of the schoolgirl said she thought her daughter was dead after she eloped with Forrest.

She said police came to their house to confront her daughter over rumours that there were indecent images of Forrest on her phone.

The mother said she did not know the whereabouts of her daughter for the seven days before she was caught.

She also said that she had not given permission to Forrest to take her away and would not have done if asked.

She said: "I thought she was dead and I did ask the police that as well."

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