Jeremy Forrest: Teacher Guilty Of Abduction

Schoolteacher Jeremy Forrest, who fled the country with a 15-year-old pupil after starting a sexual relationship with her, is due to be sentenced for abduction.

The 30-year-old, of Petts Wood, London, was convicted by jurors at Lewes Crown Court yesterday, who took just two hours to reach their verdict.

As the jury returned to court, Forrest turned to the teenager and said: "I love you."

"I'm sorry," she replied, as he was led away from court.

Forrest, who faces a maximum of seven years in prison, is being sentenced today after his lawyer asked for the case to be adjourned.

During his trial, the teacher was labelled a "paedophile" by the prosecution, which said he "groomed" the vulnerable teenager and described his actions as a gross breach of trust.

The youngster, who is now 16 but cannot be named for legal reasons, developed a crush on Forrest at Bishop Bell Church of England School in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

They held hands on a school trip to Los Angeles and started a sexual relationship shortly after her 15th birthday.

When police intervened last September following a tip-off, Forrest booked them on a cross-Channel ferry and spent a week on the run in France.

They dyed their hair and gave themselves false names in an attempt to avoid being recognised and to find work.

Forrest also threw his mobile phone into the English Channel to prevent its signal revealing their whereabouts to the police.

The couple were eventually caught by French police as Forrest walked to a bar where he had been offered a shift.

"The last nine months (have) been like living out your worst nightmare," the girl's mother said in a statement read outside court on her behalf.

"Every aspect of our lives has been affected to some degree."

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Ling, of Sussex Police, said: "As a teacher, Jeremy Forrest was in a position of responsibility, authority and trust over the children in his care, which included this young, vulnerable victim.

"He grossly abused the trust placed in him and his actions caused distress and anxiety amongst parents, family members and the school community."

Portia Ragnouth, of the Crown Prosecution Service, added: "Not only did he breach the trust and confidence that all the parents at that school had placed in him, he also brought disgrace to his profession who are trusted to look after the children in their care."