Petts Wood teacher Jeremy Forrest ‘fled to France with schoolgirl amid fears she may commit suicide’
PUBLISHED: 14:19 17 June 2013 | UPDATED: 14:19 17 June 2013
PA Wire/Press Association Images
A schoolgirl allegedly abducted to France by her married maths teacher has told a court that he came with her because he feared she might commit suicide.
The girl was aged 15 when she started a sexual relationship with Jeremy Forrest, 30, of Chislehurst Road, Petts Wood, after developing a crush on him at Bishop Bell C of E School in Eastbourne, East Sussex.
Fearing they were about to be exposed, Forrest booked them on a cross-Channel ferry from Dover to Calais on September 20 last year before spending seven days on the run in France.
The girl, now aged 16, said that she had been experiencing personal problems in the months up to the relationship with Forrest.
This included her mother going through a divorce and then her mother falling pregnant with a new partner.
The court heard the pair agreed to go to France after the girl had her phone seized by police investigating rumours of a relationship between them.
The girl said she planned to run away but Forrest agreed to come with her to prevent her from getting into danger.
She said: “He tried to persuade me not to run away.”
“I said I was going and nobody was going to stop me.
“I was very determined and once I had an idea in my head nobody was going to stop me, not Jeremy, not anybody.”
She continued: “He was concerned that if I went on my own I would be in danger, it would be a better idea if he came with me.
“If Jeremy had said he wasn’t coming with me, I would have dreaded what kind of situation I would have been in.”
Describing her mood at the time, she said: “I felt very low indeed, I didn’t know what to do, I was very desperate.”
When asked if she felt suicidal by defence counsel Ronald Jaffa, the girl, who chose today to give her evidence in court for the first time rather than by videolink, said: “Yes”.
The girl told the court that Forrest repeatedly asked her to return home but she refused.
She said: “He was saying ‘This isn’t going to end very well’ but if I was insisting that things could happen to me as a result of this, we had to go.”
“Numerous times on the way to France he would say he would give me the money so I could go home but I didn’t want to go home.”
The girl said Forrest was in tears as they drove to France.
She said: “He was very worried, he was very emotional. I do not think he wanted to take me anywhere but I was insisting, I was adamant we had to go, otherwise I was afraid of what would happen to both of us.
“I was concerned about Jeremy getting into any trouble. If Jeremy got into trouble, I do not know what I would do.”
She said she felt she had to run away because she did not want her mother to find out about a previous relationship as well as other personal issues she had been going through.
Speaking of her relationship with her mother, she said: “I didn’t get on with her very well, I didn’t like her, she wasn’t supportive.”
She added: “When there’s a divorce going on, the attention in the family is on the parents, not the children.”
She said she also felt that her mother might throw her out of home.
The girl said she started to develop a crush on Forrest after he helped her with her personal problems.
Forrest denies abducting the girl. The case continues.
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