Missing Megan Stammers Found In France

Missing Megan Stammers Found In France

Missing schoolgirl Megan Stammers has been found in France with her maths teacher Jeremy Forrest after a week-long international search.

The pair were apparently stopped by police as they made their way - hand-in-hand - to a work-related appointment in the centre of Bordeaux.

It is understood Forrest had recently been interviewed for a bar job.

The married teacher was held on suspicion of child abduction and Megan, 15, taken into police protection.

Forrest is due to be taken from a police station in Bordeaux to the city's Palais de Justice, where he will be officially notified of his arrest.

He is due to attend a formal court hearing on Tuesday morning and is likely to be held in custody until then, sources said.

A European Arrest Warrant had been issued for Forrest - a part-time musician - earlier this week.

The pair, who left Britain on a cross-Channel ferry on September 20, were found as "a direct result of media coverage in France", French police said.

Reports in French media suggested that a member of the public had tipped police off about a sighting 48 hours before they were found.

Megan's stepfather Martin Stammers, who last night made an emotional appeal for her return on BBC's Crimewatch, said he was "thrilled to bits".

"The relief, the outpouring of love from everyone is just amazing. We are just so, so happy.

"As time goes on you despair even more, but knowing Megan, knowing the girl she is, I always had that belief she was strong enough within herself to stay safe and well."

Forrest's parents - Jim and Julie Forrest - said in a statement: "We are pleased that Megan and Jeremy have been found safe and well.

"This has been an ordeal for all the families concerned. We would like to thank Sussex and the French police as well as the British media for their assistance.

"We are relieved that the search is finally over and everyone can now focus on a safe and secure return for them both."

It is believed the pair had travelled to the south-western city by train after leaving Forrest's car in Paris.

They were picked up today on La Rue Sainte Catherine at 12.15pm, UK time.

Sussex Police said: "Their families have been informed and arrangements will now be made for Megan and Jeremy's safe return."

The schoolgirl was said to be "safe and well" but is expected to undergo a French police medical examination before she is able to return to her family.

Megan's mother Danielle Wilson was seen leaving the house in a hurry following the news of her daughter's discovery.

Police suggested the schoolgirl could be back in Eastbourne, her home town, this evening.

Terry Boatwright, headteacher of Bishop Bell School, where Megan was taught by Forrest, said: "Everyone in the Bishop Bell School community is delighted that Megan has been found and can now be reunited with her family, who must be so relieved.

"Throughout the last week, finding Megan has been everyone's priority and a major focus of our thoughts and prayers in school.

"Clearly, much needs to be done now to support Megan, and her family, as they seek to return to some sort of normality and we will do all we can to play our part in that."

East Sussex Council said it is investigating what happened.

On a Facebook page set up to help the search, well-wishers expressed their relief at the news Megan would be returning home.

Craig Michael Warner said: "Great news so pleased was all I could think about."

Derek John Wroe said: "Excellent news. Very happy indeed for the family in what must have been a horrific nightmare. Wishing the Stammers all the best."

Julia Rees said: "So glad Megan is safe and well... It is going to be a very bumpy road ahead but with all this overwhelming love and support she'll be fine."

Police appeals for the pair had been translated into French, but there were some suggestions that Megan and Forrest were not actively being hunted in France.

Sky's home affairs correspondent Mark White said Megan's disappearance had not been headline news in France, despite a number of appeals by her family in Britain.

"It was in quite a few of the papers and on television," White said.

"It was in the public consciousness, but it only began to get something more in the way of coverage in the last 24 to 48 hours."

Under French law, a 15-year-old is not considered a minor in sexual terms.

However Forrest could be deemed to have committed a crime in France if he is found to have abused the position of authority he had as Megan's teacher.

There had been no confirmed sighting of Megan and Forrest seen since they were captured of CCTV during the ferry crossing to Calais.

However, a British grandmother told The Sun she had seen them walking hand-in-hand through Paris on Sunday, the day they should have been returning to the UK.

Megan left her home in Walton Close, Eastbourne at around 4.30pm last Thursday, telling her mother she was going to stay overnight at a friend's house.

Later that day CCTV recorded Mr Forrest's black Ford Fiesta heading to Dover with Megan in the passenger seat.

The following morning Megan's mother received a text message from Bishop Bell C of E School to say that Megan had not attended any lessons that day and police were called.