Petts Wood teacher Jeremy Forrest had ‘sexual relationship’ with pupil before pair fled to France
PUBLISHED: 16:24 11 June 2013 | UPDATED: 17:05 11 June 2013
PA Wire/Press Association Images
A teenage girl has spoken how a crush she had with her teacher developed into a full-blown sexual relationship before they fled abroad.
The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told how she held hands with Jeremy Forrest as they sat on a flight during a school trip to Los Angeles.
The pair then started exchanging tweets on Twitter which developed into them sending each other private messages on the social networking website.
In a video police interview from October 3 last year played at Lewes Crown Court today, the girl said they chatted about music and school.
Rumours about the pair began to circulate, she said, resulting in the school where Forrest taught - Bishop Bell C of E in Eastbourne, East Sussex - making them block each other online.
The girl said: “After the holding hands had happened, people were getting suspicious and people were making up stories about what was going on.”
“I asked a friend to get his number and we began texting for all of April and all of March.
“The texts started off with a lot of kisses. When we first began texting, we were gradually getting more like into a relationship, and there were photos and stuff like that, and there were other text messages.
“But we didn’t start a relationship until the end of May and we decided that it was what we wanted to do. Around this time, we began to meet up outside of school.”
The girl, dressed in a black top and jeans, said suspicions were raised at school but a full investigation was not launched at that point.
“Things stayed like that until the summer holidays when we began a sexual relationship which has been up until now. In the summer holidays, we were meeting up and texting.”
The girl said an investigation was launched at the school after it emerged that pictures had been sent between them. And she told how she “panicked” after a visit by police and a child protection officer.
That night, September 19, following the visit by officials, she said she packed a bag and was going to leave that night. “I wanted to leave because I didn’t want to face my mum when she found out.”
The teenager described how she went to school the day after she had been visited by the police and found that the defendant had not attended.
She said that she borrowed a friend’s phone to call Forrest and informed him that her phone had been taken from her which had pictures and text messages on it.
She said: “That’s when we seriously, for the first time, talked about running away.”
In a second phone call, she said that Forrest had informed her that he had booked a ferry to France and to meet him at a garage near her house after school.
She said that she had already packed a bag and brought it to school.
She explained that she arranged to stay at a friend’s house but after school returned home to reassure her mother and packed a second bag to take away.
She started to go to her friend’s house but feigned illness and said she was returning home but actually went to meet Forrest.
After returning to pick up a toiletry bag she had forgotten at her friend’s house, they drove to Dover to catch the ferry to Calais.
“From Calais we drove straight to Paris through the night, arriving like two or three in the morning,” she said.
“We parked up in a parking bay outside the Gare du Nord train station and stayed there for two hours.”
She said she changed out of her school top before they abandoned the car and took a train to Bordeaux.
The pair made CVs to hand out to bars and Irish pubs in order to find work and created email addresses and bought a phone.
They also used false names and dyed their hair in a bid to avoid being recognised.
She added: “In that week things were pretty normal, we didn’t pay attention to the news, we just turned it off, we did go into a shop to look at English newspapers but they didn’t have any, we weren’t aware of what was going on.”
The schoolgirl described how their time in France came to an end when Forrest received a call offering him a job at a pub called the HMS Victory.
“We were just sitting in a coffee shop we had gone to all week because it was close to our hotel.
“Jeremy got a call asking him to come and do a shift which seems now like a set-up and we went down there.
“Jeremy was walking to the pub called the HMS Victory. We were just coming up to it and we were stopped by the French police and we were separated.”