• 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
Pensioner freed after 'having sex with pony'
This is not the pony involved in the story. Photo: Steve lodefink/Flickr

Pensioner freed after 'having sex with pony'

A 74-year-old Frenchman who was caught in the act of having sex with a pony this week has walked free after escaping punishment, French media has reported. READ  

Heatwave to hit start of French holiday season
Rail passengers forced to walk along the tracks after a power outage at Paris's Gare Saint Lazare. Photo: Nicolas Mely/Twitter

Heatwave to hit start of French holiday season

With 51 départements now on alert for the heatwave - almost half of the country - the extreme heat is promising to disrupt the start of the French summer holiday season, particularly on the railways. READ  

Mum gets nine years for murdering eight babies
Dominique Cottrez appears in court on the first day of her trial. Photo: AFP

Mum gets nine years for murdering eight babies

A French housewife who killed eight of her children at birth which she claimed were from an incestuous relationship with her father, was handed a nine-year prison sentence on Thursday. READ  

Nike fined for putting French shirt on Churchill
The French basketball team posing with the dressed-up statue. Photo: BFMTV

Nike fined for putting French shirt on Churchill

American sportswear giant Nike has been ordered to pay thousands of euros by a court in Paris after arranging a stunt that saw a French basketball shirt placed on the statue of Britain's war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill near the Champs-Elysée. READ  

What France might look like in the year 2050
If you thought this week’s record-breaking heatwave was a one-off then think again. Photo: Dominique Faget/AFP

What France might look like in the year 2050

A science magazine's predictions for what France will be like in the year 2050 sound a little like scenes from a disaster movie, well at least for those who love Bordeaux wine. The Local takes a closer look. READ  

French court allows Le Pen to rejoin the party
Founder of the National Front (FN), Jean-Marie Le Pen, leaves the High Court of Nanterre on June 12th. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP

French court allows Le Pen to rejoin the party

A French court on Thursday cancelled the suspension of veteran far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen from the National Front party which he founded. READ  

French voters would prefer DSK to Hollande
Dominique Strauss-Kahn looking relieved now that his sex life has been made public. Can he make a comeback? Photo: AFP

French voters would prefer DSK to Hollande

Despite his sordid sex life being exposed for all to see in a recent pimping trial, ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn remains a favourite among French voters, many of whom would like to see him in the Elysée Palace in 2017. READ  

Outcry as France's much loved puppets face axe

Outcry as France's much loved puppets face axe

They have lampooned the political elite for decades, at home and abroad, but now the merciless puppets hosting France's favourite comedy show Les Guignols are threatened with redundancy, sparking an outcry on Thursday. READ  

Calais travel chaos
Calais: French strikers put protest on hold
Trucks are parked on carriageways of the M20 motorway near Ashford in Kent in south-east England, on Wednesday, waiting to board ferries to France. Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP

Calais: French strikers put protest on hold

The port at Calais in northern France partially reopened on Thursday as ferry workers suspended protests that have blocked access for three consecutive days. However ferry services remained limited and strikers have threatened more action. READ  

'No error' over faulty breast implants: court
Lawyer Laurent Gaudon (R) and his clients who received the faulty implants at the start of the trial in 2013. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP

'No error' over faulty breast implants: court

A French appeals court on Thursday found German safety standards body TUV had "fulfilled its obligations" in certifying breast implants that were found to be faulty and sparked a worldwide scare. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
GPS helps blind French hikers cross mountains
National
Dreading the heatwave in France? Here's how to survive the sun
National
Brits might have the brighter economy but are the French happier?
Ryanair or French air traffic controllers: Who would you support?
How life will change in France as of July 1st
These are best places in Paris to escape the heatwave
Ten beaches in France where you'd love to be during the heatwave
Calais chaos: Travellers left to curse 'striking French'
Society
Why the French are right to strike (but perhaps not burn tracks)
Why France doesn't have much to lose from a Grexit
National
Frenchwoman dies as bungee jump ends in tragedy
Travel
The most beautiful French villages you've never heard of
National
Can we really feel any sympathy for French taxi drivers?
Feigned French shock over US spying is not fooling anyone
Gallery
When Franco-American relations turn sour - Ten transatlantic scraps
Sport
Dozens fall violently ill after 'mud race' in France
How a genetically modified 'jellyfish-lamb' ended being eaten in France
Culture
Ten must-visit movie scene locations in Paris
National
Paris to return historic squares to the people
Forget Nutella here's eight things the French should really give up
Sport
What the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris would look like
It's time to lay off the French - They are not that rude
National
Just look at what France has given the United States over the years
Health
France's creaking health service must change if it wants to stay world's best
National
French warn UK: 'Brexit could be your Waterloo'
Europe commemorates 200 years since Waterloo
National
Waterloo: What you need to know about Napoleon
French told stop eating Nutella to save planet
Is it time for France's empty churches to be turned into mosques?
French people told to stop scoffing Nutella in order to save planet
Society
French school teacher shows his pupils porn film
National
IN PICTURES: See the blaze that ravaged a French basilica
Video: Tourists shocked by Calais migrants scramble
The French words the English language needs to steal right now
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: 9 questions every expat should ask
Travel
13 ways France aims to become more welcoming to tourists
Education
Expat parents protest changes to admissions for Paris bilingual schools
Education
Test yourself: Just how good is your French grammar?
Travel
France to spend 'hundreds of millions' on tourism
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

3,582
jobs available