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British teacher found guilty of abducting schoolgirl

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-06-20

A British secondary school teacher was convicted on Thursday of abducting a child after he fled to France with a 15-year-old schoolgirl he was sexually involved with. The prosecutor labelled 30-year-old Jeremy Forrest (pictured) a paedophile.

British teacher Jeremy Forrest was found guilty on Thursday of abducting a 15-year-old schoolgirl after they fled to France together.

A jury found 30-year-old Forrest guilty over the September episode in which the pair spent eight days on the run, sparking an international manhunt.

The prosecutor said Forrest had groomed the pupil and labelled him a paedophile.
Forrest chose not to give evidence in his defence. He was convicted by the jury following an eight-day trial.

International manhunt

Forrest, 30, a married maths teacher, disappeared with the girl from his school in Eastbourne in Sussex on the southeast English coast in September.

Their sexual relationship began shortly after the pupil's 15th birthday, Lewes Crown Court heard, with regular trysts in his car, in hotels and at the home he shared with his wife.

The pair left Britain by ferry on September 20, triggering a Europe-wide hunt that ended eight days later when they were picked up by police in Bordeaux.

The teenager, who is afforded anonymity in the UK under British law, was repatriated the following day while Forrest was detained in Bordeaux to allow a French magistrate to consider an international arrest warrant issued by the British authorities.

A French court then ruled that Forrest should be returned to Britain.

Suicide claims

As the jury returned to deliver its verdict on Thursday, Forrest told the girl "I love you".

She burst into tears as the guilty verdict was announced, and told him "I'm sorry" as he was led away to the cells.

Forrest's defence lawyer had argued he felt he had to run away with the girl because he feared she would commit suicide.

Forrest is due to be sentenced at a later date.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-06-20

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