SHARE
COPY LINK

BORDEAUX

Trial begins of runaway teacher caught in France

A British maths teacher accused of abducting one of his 15-year-old students and absconding to France with her, has gone on trial, it was reported on Wednesday. A prosecutor told the court: "This is not Romeo and Juliet."

Trial begins of runaway teacher caught in France
British maths teacher Jeremy Forrest, pictured in October 2012. Forrest went on trial on June 11th, charged with abducting a 15-year-old student. Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP

The trial of a married British teacher accused of abducting a child heard Tuesday that he ran away to France with a 15-year-old pupil after they started a sexual relationship, sparking an international manhunt.

Maths teacher Jeremy Forrest, 30, faces up to seven years in jail if convicted of abducting the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

A jury at Lewes Crown Court in East Sussex, southeast England, heard that the pair absconded on September 20 last year, a day after police questioned the girl about the relationship.

They took a ferry to France – with the teenager using Forrest's wife's passport – sparking an intensive search on both sides of the Channel.

Forrest was arrested in the port city of Bordeaux, southwest France, eight days later.

Prosecutor Richard Barton said the teacher had committed a "gross and long-term breach of trust".

"This is not Romeo and Juliet – this is a 15-year-old girl with her own vulnerabilities, and a 30-year-old teacher," he told the court.

"When parents send their children to school, they quite properly expect that those who teach their children will care for them properly."

Barton said the girl had gone willingly to France, but Forrest could not use this as a defence.

In a video interview recorded on October 3rd that was played to the court, the teenager said that in the months before she and Forrest fled, they exchanged flirtatious texts and Twitter messages and eventually started meeting up for sex.

The age of sexual consent in Britain is 16.

"I had had boyfriends and crushes on other people but he was older," she said. "I liked that he was older and mature."

She added: "I didn't really like school, talking to him became a reason to start going and made me feel better about things."

The court heard that the night before they ran away, a police officer and a social worker had visited the girl's home and asked questions about the relationship.

She denied having improper relations with Forrest but her mother gave police permission to seize her mobile phone. Knowing that the messages and pictures on the phone would reveal the truth, she packed a bag.

"I wanted to leave because I didn't want to face my mum when she found out," the girl said.

Once in France, she and Forrest dyed their hair in an attempt to disguise themselves and began looking for work using false CVs, but an English bar owner in Bordeaux recognised them from media reports and Forrest was arrested in the street.

He had been married for a year but relations with his wife were strained, jurors were told.

The trial is due to last two weeks.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

EXPLOSION

UPDATE: One killed and 10 injured in France garage blast

An 88-year-old woman was killed and her 89-year-old partner was seriously hurt during an explosion in a garage in the French city of Bordeaux on Saturday, firefighters said.

UPDATE: One killed and 10 injured in France garage blast
Firefighters work at the site where a large explosion in a garage destroyed the building as well as two neighbouring ones on February 6, 2021 in Bordeaux' Chartrons district. Photo: AFP

Initial investigations suggest gas was the cause of the blast, which destroyed the small building and seriously damaged two neighbouring buildings.

The woman had been listed as missing after the blast at around 8am (0700 GMT) in the Chartrons district of the western French city.

Firefighters said they found her body under rubble at around 4pm.

Her partner, the 89-year-old man, had been fighting for his life in hospital before his condition later improved, according to officials.

A second person initially named as missing has since come forward.

So far nine other people have been identified with minor injuries following the blast.

A member of the dog-technical team arrives at the site of the explosion. Photo: AFP

About 70 firefighters were on the scene.

Emergency services used sniffer dogs and equipment to clear the debris in their search.

The explosion destroyed a car park and garage on the ground floor and lodgings on the floor above.

The windows of several nearby shops were blown out by the force of the blast.

Lucie Perrouault, 21, said she was scared when the windows “exploded”.

“The glass from our window was blown onto us, we stepped on glass and my boyfriend was injured,” she said.

The large explosion destroyed the building as well as two neighbouring ones in Bordeaux' Chartrons district. Photo: AFP

 

Mael, 38, said she “was sleeping and I heard a great 'boom' — my bay window exploded”.

“I went outside and saw that an apartment had been blown up”.

While gas supplies to the district have been cut, “we don't know yet whether it was the gas network or canisters” that caused the explosion, said Eric Destarac, a spokesman for gas distribution company Regaz.

Firefighters recovered some gas bottles from the garage, he added.

 

SHOW COMMENTS