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Petts Wood teacher Jeremy Forrest will not give evidence for his defence

PUBLISHED: 15:16 19 June 2013 | UPDATED: 15:16 19 June 2013

Teacher Jeremy Forrest was found guilty by a jury at Lewes Crown Court.

Teacher Jeremy Forrest was found guilty by a jury at Lewes Crown Court.

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Teacher Jeremy Forrest, who allegedly abducted a schoolgirl to France, will not give evidence in his defence.

The 30-year-old, of Chislehurst Road, Petts Wood, denies an offence of child abduction at Lewes Crown Court.

The trial has heard the pupil was aged 15 when she started a sexual relationship with Forrest after developing a crush on him at Bishop Bell C of E School in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

Ronald Jaffa, defending, told the court that Forrest would not be giving evidence.

Judge Michael Lawson QC advised the jury that they could make “any inferences as appear proper” in the defendant’s decision not to give evidence.

Mr Jaffa read a series of character references for Forrest as the defence case began.

He was described as a “talented and inspirational” teacher who “cared for others” and who has spent his time in prison teaching other inmates.

His sister, Carrie Hanspaul, said she believed his caring nature had got him into trouble.

She said: “Jeremy has always been the quietest of us all.

“He is very good natured and extremely mild-mannered.

“He never has a bad word to say about anyone and always strives to do whatever he can to help other people and care for them.

“Unfortunately I believe this has contributed to his recent actions.”

She continued: “Jeremy has been in a very difficult relationship for the last six years but did not want to worry any of his family, especially our parents, with his problems.

“Instead he withdrew more and more and tried to deal with the issues himself.”

Forrest’s uncle, John Forrest, a solicitor specialising in pensions law, said: “I believe that Jeremy is a gentle and responsible person who does not pose a threat to another person.

“He is deeply upset by the position in which he finds himself and is embarrassed and remorseful about the upset which he has caused to his friends and his family.”

Former colleague Susan Pinder, a retired teacher at Forrest’s first school Bishop Justus CE Secondary School in Bromley, Kent, described how Forrest had spent his time in prison teaching other inmates.

Summing up the prosecution case, Richard Barton said Forrest could be considered as a “paedophile” who had “groomed” the schoolgirl.

He told the jury: “You do not have to decide whether he was a paedophile; you may consider, in the context of what he did, that is not an inappropriate label for him.

“It is about his desires to have that young sexual flesh, to satisfy his own carnal lusts.”

He said it was not a case of Romeo and Juliet as they would have to have been “equal” partners in what happened.

He added: “A teenager isn’t going to get out of Eastbourne, let alone out of the country.”

Judge Lawson adjourned the case until tomorrow when he will sum up the case before sending the jury out to consider its verdict.

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