Teacher's wife weeps in court over split

Jeremy Forrest arrives at Lewes Crown Court. Photo: PA

The wife of a teacher who allegedly abducted a schoolgirl to France broke down in tears as she told a court how their marriage was falling apart.

Lewes Crown Court has heard how the pupil was aged 15 when she started a sexual relationship with Jeremy Forrest, 30, after developing a crush on him at Bishop Bell C of E School in Eastbourne.

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, denies child abduction.

His wife Emily sobbed as she gave evidence and had to take a break when she said she was being distracted. Judge Michael Lawson QC allowed Mrs Forrest to take a break to enable her to compose herself and she then continued to give her evidence from behind a screen.

The 32-year-old described how their relationship worsened during the last year. She said that at the end of 2011: "He was staying out at night a lot and not telling me where he was going. It got worse in January, he was staying out a lot more, drinking a lot of alcohol, coming back in the morning not telling me where he was. It was hard."

She said that he started using his Twitter account and she noticed that he was sending messages to pupils from his school. This included one using the first name of the schoolgirl with the surname Del Rey taken from the singer Lana Del Rey.

Mrs Forrest said: "I texted him 'Can you stop tweeting her please because I do not think it's appropriate'. Teachers shouldn't be tweeting kids, they shouldn't even be friends with them.

"I didn't think there was anything in it but I just thought he could get himself into trouble because his boss followed him on Twitter as well. He said it was fine and Twitter was a public forum so there was nothing wrong with it."

She said they went on holiday together to Malaysia and Thailand during Easter and their relationship was good there before deteriorating after they returned. She said they only had sex once between May and when he ran off in September.

She said: "He just became really, really distant and constantly on his mobile phone. He wouldn't come up to sleep in the same bed as me, would go off at weekends, he would go out for a paper in the morning and wouldn't come back until the evening."

She said during the summer holidays he asked if she wanted to have children with him which she found "weird" because their relationship was not going well.

Mrs Forrest told the court that she was still legally married to the defendant. She said they met in 2007 and started going out in March that year before they got engaged in October 2009. She said: "We were flying to Portugal for a holiday and Jeremy proposed to me on the plane."

She said they moved to their home in Ringmer in February 2009 and married in April 2011. She said they had a similar interest in rock music and she helped him set up his music blog and designed album covers for the music recordings he made.

She said they went out for dinner together on September 19 - the day before he left for France - to the Prezzo restaurant in Lewes.

She said: "He seemed a bit off, quiet, I was chatting lots about work, he seemed quiet. He said he wasn't happy at work and he wanted to leave teaching. He said he wanted to set up a music cafe, it's something he had mentioned before. He seemed down and said 'There was lot going on in my life'."

She added when she asked what was happening: "He told me just not to push it." She said that when they got home: "I went to bed and Jeremy kind of tucked me in, he just told me he loved me."

She continued: "When I left in the morning I was in quite a good mood because Jeremy told me he loved me so I was like pestering him in bed, just being silly, just singing but he looked really kind of angry. I texted him in the day to say sorry if I was being annoying, he said 'you weren't annoying that was just my morning face'."

Mrs Forrest said that he texted her later to say he was going to stay at his parents' house that night because he had a course in London the next day and would then be staying at a friend's house for the weekend.

She said she was annoyed because they had arranged to visit her family for a farewell dinner for her brother who was heading off to university. She sent him a text saying: "I am fed up with you letting me down at the last minute all the time."

She said he later replied with the last message he was to send her saying: "Do not worry, I will call you tomorrow. Love you."

Mrs Forrest admitted under cross-examination that she had previously been prescribed anti-depressants by her GP and had received counselling at a Priory clinic. She admitted she had gone through periods when she felt "miserable and down".

Ronald Jaffa, defending, asked her: "You didn't feel very good about yourself?" She replied: "No, not really. Because my husband wanted to stop having sex with me of course I am not going to feel too good about myself."

She denied a suggestion that in the summer of 2012 they were planning to separate and sell their home.

Earlier in the hearing, the mother of the schoolgirl told the court that she thought her daughter was dead after she eloped with Forrest. She also described how police had come to their house to confront her daughter over rumours that there were indecent images of Forrest on her phone.

The mother said that 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."

The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said that she was first warned by the school about rumours about her daughter and Forrest about two weeks after the trip to Los Angeles in February 2012. She said she was told that "there were rumours amongst the pupils that she had got close to him but there was nothing found".

The mother said she confronted her daughter when she returned home. She said: "When she got back from school, she came in and I sat her down and told her the call I had. She broke down, completely cried, she said that it was just nasty rumours as he was the teacher that calmed her down on the plane."

She said she did not hear anything again about Forrest until mid July. She said she received a call from the school but did not manage to speak to the staff member. She said that Forrest then called her and broke down in tears as he spoke of the rumours which he said were false.

She said: "He said that he wanted to nip it all in the bud before the school started again in September. He alluded that (my daughter) was being a bit of a pain, he said (she) kept hanging around him. He said he couldn't allow this to ruin his career so I had a conversation with him, I felt I was coaching him, consoling him because he was getting quite upset on the phone.

"He was upset about it getting worse, he kept going on and on about his career. He didn't want it go any further, he didn't want it to get any worse. He kept on going over the same things, mainly about his career. I apologised for my daughter's behaviour, I said 'Leave it with me, I will sort it, I would take full responsibility and sort it'."

The mother said she confronted her daughter again. She said: "I did more than talk to her, I went mad at her. I was mortified that my daughter could put someone in that position. I'm a professional person myself, I was embarrassed she had put someone in this position. I was horrified, ashamed and I had a go at her. Clearly I was upset and she knew I was upset. She said 'It's not true', she was in tears, she broke down, she said 'It's not true, it's not true'.

"He said the problem with the rumours was that (she) wasn't denying them, she was allowing people to just talk. I asked her 'Are you are telling me there's nothing in this? There's nothing in this?', she said 'No' and I told her 'You must tell people it's not true'."

The mother of the girl also told the court that her she had had a good relationship with her daughter until about two months ago. She said that during 2012 her daughter had been happy and confided in her about any personal problems.

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday when the prosecution is expected to close its case.