Petts Wood teacher Jeremy Forrest guilty of abducting schoolgirl
PUBLISHED: 14:27 20 June 2013 | UPDATED: 09:11 21 June 2013
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Jeremy Forrest has been found guilty of child abduction this afternoon.
The teacher, of Chislehurst Road, Petts Wood, denied the offence but was found guilty by a jury at Lewes Crown Court - who took around two hours to reach their verdict.
The court heard how Forrest, 30, started a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old pupil, before the pair fled to France in September last year in fear they were about to be exposed.
Richard Barton, prosecuting, said that Forrest’s actions were an abuse of trust and he had not acted with the consent of the girl’s parents.
He added that Forrest could be labelled a “paedophile” who had “groomed” the vulnerable teenager.
Ronald Jaffa, defending, said that the girl was “desperate and suicidal” and Forrest had gone with the girl to prevent her coming to harm.
Judge Michael Lawson QC, told the eight men and four women of the jury that they would have to consider that Forrest acted out of “necessity” in order to acquit him.
He said this would have to be to prevent “imminent death or serious injury” and that his actions were a “reasonable and proportionate” response to the circumstances.
He also added that it was not in the girl’s right to leave her parent’s care without their permission.
Before the hearing got under way today, Forrest’s father, Jim, collapsed in the court and he was treated by a paramedic before he was taken away by ambulance.
The defendant, wearing a grey suit, striped shirt, purple tie and with short-cropped hair and glasses, could be seen to be worried and consulted with his family as he took his seat in the dock.
Forrest is set to be sentenced tomorrow.