• France's news in English
 

Fleeing teacher in French jail as Megan goes home

Published: 01 Oct 2012 16:53 GMT+02:00

Megan Stammers boarded a flight for London's Gatwick airport, not far from her home in Eastbourne, Sussex, accompanied by a man and a woman.

She looked straight ahead of her without smiling as she walked towards the EasyJet plane, dressed in a black long-sleeved sweatshirt and black jeans, carrying a black bag with white flowers.

Dozens of journalists were kept some 100 metres away. The plane took off at 1326 GMT from Bordeaux's Merignac airport.

Stammers and Jeremy Forrest, her 30-year-old maths teacher, were found in the southwestern city of Bordeaux on Friday, 10 days after they took the ferry from Dover.

Forrest is being held in nearby Gradignan prison pending a court hearing on Tuesday, and has said he will not oppose being handed over to British authorities, according to his lawyer Daniel Lalanne.

Forrest, seen by a witness Friday evening in the corridor of a Bordeaux court without handcuffs and "a long face", surrounded by police, was "very disappointed by the sudden brake put on his romance," Lalanne said.

"He is not on the run, he was arrested while he was in Bordeaux looking for work in order to carry on his romance in a country that might be more understanding," the lawyer added.

Under French law, a 15-year-old is not considered a minor in sexual terms, unlike in Britain, where the age of consent is 16.

Lalanne, who saw Forrest early Saturday along with British lawyer Henrietta Ronson, added that Forrest was not depressed. He had been well treated by French authorities and in prison, he said.

He described Forrest as "charming", seeming younger than his age and "very self-effacing."

Police in Sussex said Stammers' parents had been in contact with their daughter by telephone but had remained in Britain as they await her return.

British media had reported that Stammers' mother Danielle Wilson would be flying to Bordeaux to bring her home, but a French source close to the case said Stammers had been travelling on her mother's passport.

Forrest's British lawyer Phil Smith said in a statement: "He has agreed to return to the UK as soon as possible without the need for protracted extradition proceedings."

The pair were discovered strolling down Bordeaux's main shopping street after a member of the public recognised Forrest from media coverage of the runaways.

The manager of a hotel in Bordeaux where the couple stayed one night said they were "discreet" and "not particularly amorous".

"They arrived on September 21st late afternoon and left Saturday morning but I did not know at all that they were illegal," said Eric, the hotel manager who did not want to give his full name.
 

-- 'She didn't look 15' --
 

The manager said Forrest, who spoke a few words of French, registered under the name of "Jack Grant" and that he never thought Stammers was a minor.

"She didn't look 15 years old, but rather 18 to 20 while he seemed a bit younger than 30," Eric said.

"What intrigued me was that he came in alone, booked a double room and when I asked him where she was he told me, 'She's waiting outside', which is not how things are done generally," he added.

When they checked out the following morning, paying cash, the manager said he saw them for a short while in the lobby but "they didn't talk a lot to each other."

Prosecutors emphasised that French police were not investigating the case but simply carrying out an international arrest warrant issued by British authorities.

The pair had boarded a cross-Channel ferry together on September 20th. CCTV pictures were released of them holding hands and walking arm in arm aboard the ferry from Dover to the northern French port of Calais.

Their parents had appealed for them to get in touch but played down fears that the schoolgirl could be in any danger.

There was never any suggestion that Stammers was taken by Forrest against her will.

While Stammers is not considered a minor sexually, Forrest could be deemed to have committed a crime in France if he was found to have abused the position of authority he had as her teacher.

The teacher, who plays in a rock band under the stage name Jeremy Ayre and has a wife aged 31, had hinted at a "moral dilemma" on his blog four months ago.

France has open borders with Spain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg under the Schengen Agreement, which had raised speculation that the pair might have moved on across the continent.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How France shapes up in the global wine industry
Photo: AFP

How France shapes up in the global wine industry

No country is more synonymous with wine than France but a new annual report on the global wine industry has revealed the home of Bordeaux and Burgundy does not have everything its own way when it comes to plonk. READ  

Writers boycott Charlie Hebdo gala in New York
People visit a makeshift memorial near the headquarters of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

Writers boycott Charlie Hebdo gala in New York

Six prominent novelists have withdrawn from a New York literary gala to protest against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo being honored with a freedom of expression award. READ  

Top French civil servant and her €40k taxi bills
French media exec and her €40,000 taxi bills. Photo: Shutterstock.

Top French civil servant and her €40k taxi bills

A top French civil servant is the latest public official to come under fire in France for wasting tax payers' money after it was revealed she racked up an eye-watering €40,000 ($43,000) worth of taxi bills in just 10 months. That's despite the fact she also had her own chauffeur driven company car. READ  

Ryanair's O'Leary blasts 'protectionist' France
Last year the airline was ordered to pay €8.1 million ($10.3 million) in damages along with €200,000 in fines for breaching French labour laws. Photo: Paolo Margari/Flickr

Ryanair's O'Leary blasts 'protectionist' France

Ryanair’s outspoken CEO Michael O'Leary has slammed the French government for being “protectionist” and said his airline shouldn't have to pay payroll taxes in France. The ruling Socialist party hit back saying Ryanair's practices were "borderline fraud". READ  

Nepal Earthquake
Hundreds of French still missing in Nepal
Survivors of the Nepal earthquake sit in the street in front of their destroyed homes. Photo: AFP

Hundreds of French still missing in Nepal

As the death toll from the devastating Nepal earthquake rose beyond 3,200, authorities in Paris said on Monday they are still trying to make contact with nearly 700 French nationals believed to have been in the country at the time of the disaster. Paris confirmed that two French nationals had died in the quake. READ  

Jewish man beaten near synagogue in France
Security was stepped up outside France's synagogues in the wake of the Paris terror attacks earlier this year. Photo: Jean Pierre Muller/AFP

Jewish man beaten near synagogue in France

A Jewish man has described how he feared for his life after being beaten by a group of men armed with a knife as he left a synagogue near Paris. The latest anti-Semitic attack comes as France vows to tackle a rise in anti-Jewish incidents. READ  

France and Australia condemn death penalty

France and Australia condemn death penalty

French president François Hollande and Australia's PM Tony Abbott sent a message to Jakarta on Monday morning as the leaders jointly condemned the death penalty. Indonesia is preparing to execute several drug traffickers including French and Australian nationals. READ  

Strasbourg will remain EU capital, France vows
Members of the European Parliament are forced to decamp every month from Brussels to Strasbourg for voting sessions. Photo: Frederick Florin/AFP

Strasbourg will remain EU capital, France vows

France would never allow Strasbourg to be stripped of its status as a European capital, President Francois Hollande said on Sunday, despite the huge cost of shuttling EU politicians there from Brussels each month. READ  

Ligue 1 Round-up
Lyon peg back PSG in Ligue 1 title fight
Lyon players celebrate a goal in their victory over Reims that puts them back on top of Ligue 1. Photo: AFP

Lyon peg back PSG in Ligue 1 title fight

Lyon were back on top of Ligue 1 on Sunday after a convincing win over Reims, meaning the club are level on points with PSG, who put Lille to the sword on Saturday. Here's a round-up of weekend the action from Ligue 1. READ  

IN PICTURES
France's prehistoric Chauvet cave opens
The replica of the Chauvet cave at Pont d'Arc is to open its doors. Photo: AFP

France's prehistoric Chauvet cave opens

A stunning replica of the 36,000 year-old Grotte Chauvet, home to the oldest figurative cave drawings in the world and an Unesco Heritage site, opened to the public at the weekend. Here's a look inside the country's latest tourist attraction. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Take a peek inside France's newest, but oldest tourist attraction
National
How to disguise the fact you are clearly not French
France desperately hunts for church terror plot accomplices
Can France really protect 4,500 churches around the country?
WARNING - When in France use first names with caution
So what does the world's oldest bubbly taste like?
British expats left in lurch by NHS clampdown
Tossing cigarette butts in Paris to prompt €68 fines
Culture
Cannes Film Festival reveals jury
Flamanville: France's nuclear 'calamity' that has the UK worried
Features
Forget the Mona Lisa, here's the weirdest objects you can see around Paris
For many Britons 'Waterloo' is just an Abba song or a train station
IN PICTURES: See the French ship 'Hermione' set sail again for the US
Opinion
Is it time the French scrapped tu and vous?
National
Sexual harassment rife on Paris trains
National
Marine Le Pen makes Time 'most influential' list
Cannes Film Festival line-up revealed
National
Cartoonist's book slams 'Islamophobia swindlers'
National
More French women than men lured by Isis
Society
Les Entrepreneurs: We chat with the founder of Paris Picnic
National
Edith Piaf celebrated at Parisian exhibit
How the health reforms will change life in France
Gallery
Naked protests: The French love to take their clothes off to make a point
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Then and now - the site of the Alps plane crash
Travel
So why would anyone really want to live in Lille?
Opinion
Why the French should be very worried about new spying powers
National
Spain's newest export to France: Vultures
Did a row over stolen veg lead to the murder of a British expat in France?
VIDEO: French rail chiefs SNCF furious after the Paris-Roubaix race
Sport
What the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris would look like
Culture
IN PICS: Take a look inside France's new 36,000 year-old tourist site
International
Did the Pope reject France's envoy to the Vatican because he was gay?
Cyberjihad: Hacking of French TV channel was 'a step up'
Politics
PROFILE: Jean-Marie Le Pen - France's far-right master provocateur
National
France's fatigued 'anti-terror' police resort to calling sick
National
Dipping baguette in a bowl of coffee! - French habits foreigners don't get
Strike latest: Scores of flights cancelled in France
Features
New Calais migrant camp 'the worst in Europe'
Society
ASK THE EXPERTS: So why are the French always on strike?
National
French air traffic control strike: Tourists face travel chaos
Culture
Which stars will land an invite to the Cannes Film Festival?
Technology
Paris holds film festival for blind cinema goers
National
Paris wants to triple its number of cyclists by 2020
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

?>