Jeremy Forrest appears in court over running away with schoolgirl
Accused of running away with one of his pupils, married school teacher Jeremy Forrest appeared at the Lewes Crown Court for the start of a two-week trial on Tuesday.
The Scottish-born, 30-year-old Forrest was a maths tutor at Bishop Bell School and was arrested by police in Bordeaux, France, on 28th September last year following the issue of a European arrest warrant for absconding with a schoolgirl half his age.
After extradition to Britain, Sussex police charged Forrest on 10th October with abducting a 15-year-old teenage, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
The youngster described her teacher as “attractive” and in a police interview said: “He was normal and flirty the way I was with him. He was polite and nice to everyone but with me he was a bit nicer. The more I noticed that, the (flirtier) I was. I had had boyfriends and crushes on other people but he was older. It was a lot different. I liked that he was older and mature.”
In January at a plea and case management hearing at Lewes Crown Court in front of the judge, Mr Justice Singh, Forrest pleaded not guilty and denied child abduction as he appeared via video link from HMP Lewes.
A pre-trial review was heard on 17th May, however, no bail application was made by his solicitor Phil Smith and Forrest remained in custody.
On Tuesday, the court heard how the runaways spent a week in France under false names and dyed their hair to change their appearance.
The prosecutor Richard Barton said: “This is not Romeo and Juliet. This is a 15-year-old with her own vulnerabilities and a 30-year-old teacher.” He went on to argue that the argument that the schoolgirl was undoubtedly a “willing participant” in the alleged abduction was no defence.
The representatives of the schoolgirl’s family were also in court to hear the case against Forrest open.
The trial judge Michael Lawson QC made an order banning the media from publishing details of the prosecution’s opening until the first witness had finished giving evidence.