• 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
Waterloo: Why is it still taboo for the French?
A Waterloo reenactment. Photo: AFP

Waterloo: Why is it still taboo for the French?

France stood accused this week of "sulking" because it failed to nominate any high-ranking official to attend the gigantic commemoration for the 200-year anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. READ  

France's cheapest holiday spots revealed
Holidayers in Nice, southern France. Photo: AFP

France's cheapest holiday spots revealed

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Paris is the most expensive region in France to spend a summer holiday... but where is the cheapest? A new study has found the answer. READ  

France pulls up sunken tyres from artificial reefs
The tyres are hauled up from the seabed. Photo: AFP

France pulls up sunken tyres from artificial reefs

Tourists and film stars hitting the beach at the French Riviera resort of Cannes may be blissfully unaware but lurking beneath the sparkling waves are tens of thousands of now troublesome scrap tyres, sunk deliberately to boost marine development. READ  

French films
The best French films you've never heard of
French actor Tahar Rahim in a scene from A Prophet. Photo: YouTube/Screengrab

The best French films you've never heard of

With the Cannes Film Festival nearing its end and with everyone talking about everything film - we take a look back at the best ten French movies you've probably never heard of, thanks to French cinema expert Judith Prescott. READ  

Tourism in Paris
Eiffel Tower shuts as staff protest pickpockets
Tourists at the France's iconic Eiffel Tower. Photo: AFP

Eiffel Tower shuts as staff protest pickpockets

The Eiffel Tower was closed on Friday morning, as workers protested over the scourge of pickpockets around the famous monument, who they say have threatened and attacked them. READ  

Paris couple found in flat with throats slit
Photo: AFP

Paris couple found in flat with throats slit

A woman, who was reportedly pregnant, was found dead with her throat slit in a Paris apartment on Friday while her partner was left in a critical condition. An electric sander was found running beside their bodies. READ  

Cannes Film Festival
Sophie Marceau: Queen of baring all at Cannes
Sophie Marceau is a member of the Feature Film jury this year at Cannes. Photo: AFP

Sophie Marceau: Queen of baring all at Cannes

French actress Sophie Marceau is surely the undisputed queen of the Cannes wardrobe malfunction after her plunging jacket gave photographers more than an eyeful once again this week. And it's not the first time she's given the paparazzi palpitations. READ  

Cameron to visit Paris to push for EU reform
UK PM David Cameron will hope to convince François Hollande that Britain should be allowed to renegotiate its relationship to the EU. Photo: AFP

Cameron to visit Paris to push for EU reform

UK Prime Minister David Cameron is to visit Paris next week as part of his charm offensive as he tries to persuade European leaders to allow Britain to renegotiate its ties with the EU, ahead of a planned In/Out referendum in the UK. READ  

Homes in northern France shaken by quake
The quake was felt across the Channel in the northern French departement of Pas-de-Calais. Photo: France's Central Bureau of Seismology (BCSF)

Homes in northern France shaken by quake

The tremors from a 4.4 magnitude earthquake were felt in northern France early on Friday morning, prompting several worried calls to the emergency services. READ  

France: 'World must act over threat to Palmyra'
The ancient city of Palmyra whose archaeological treasures are threatened by Isis. Photo: AFP

France: 'World must act over threat to Palmyra'

French President Francois Hollande on Thursday said the world must respond to Islamic State jihadists' seizure of Palmyra amid fears they could destroy the Syrian city's world renowned ancient monuments. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Take a tour of the best Metro stations that Paris has to offer
National
Soon there'll be a fixed fare for a taxi ride from the airport into Paris
National
Drug dealers in Marseille are offering customers loyalty cards
Soon there'll be no minimum for using your bank card in France
Features
Eurovision is around the corner - and we don't fancy France's chances
Features
Fancy starting a business and living in Paris? There's help available
National
Are you fearing a Brexit? Maybe it's time to become a French citizen
How hard-up French are tempted by money to take migrants to the UK
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: 9 questions every expat should ask
Education
More English words (including 'le selfie') sneak into French
Charlie Hebdo to give €4.3m to attack victims
National
French Protestants bless gay marriage
Opinion
Why elitism is dragging France down
Features
RECIPE: How to make your own picnic-perfect meringues
Business & Money
French tax declaration deadline: Key things to remember
VIDEO: Can YOU pronounce the trickiest word in French?
France tops holiday wish list for children
National
Study: Women do bulk of housework in France
National
VIDEO: Police use force on Calais migrants
National
This man is France's Instagram king. But who else makes the top list?
Features
Free museum entry, film festivals, sports... see What's On this in May
Culture
Behind the curtain: A closer look at the Cannes Film Festival
National
It's a boy! Baby born on Air France flight to Paris
Features
Love-locked: Whatever happened to Paris's beautiful bridges?
'Forget the UK election, expats should be able to vote in France'
Thomas Piketty backs Miliband for Britain but not Hollande for France
Gallery
The most spectacular sunset pictures from around France
National
France tells migrants in Calais to 'forget the UK and stay here'
Who's to blame? Trial after Frenchman dies downing 56 shots
Society
VIDEO: See what's beneath the surface of the French Riviera
National
French teen suicide after sex video web bullying
France launches bid to buy Europe's biggest and most spectacular dune
Business & Money
Why May 2015 is the best month in years to work in France
Five great outdoor bars in Paris to check out this summer
Double standards? French Muslim barred from class over long skirt
National
France goes on the defensive after UN experts say 'racism is trivialised'
Five reasons we should be worried about France's new snooping laws
International
The French don't seem to care about the UK election and that's normal
Culture
Only in France? Naked comedian stuns French culture minister
Migrant camps spring up in the heart of Paris
International
France bags another fighter jet deal but should Paris thank the US?
Society
French elevator protocol: Greeting, flirting and yes, even sex
Travel
Getting from CDG airport to Paris by road should now be a lot quicker
Politics
Why all the dodgy ties? A French view of the UK general election
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