I hoped people would accept our relationship’: Schoolgirl, 15, who fled to France with paedophile teacher Jeremy Forrest breaks her silence on ‘dangerous infatuation that cost us dearly’
- Jeremy Forrest triggered international manhunt when he went on run with girl
- Teacher was jailed for child sex and abduction and spent three years in prison
- Girl has now said she ‘hoped people would understand how we’d fallen in love’
- She added that the ‘dangerous infatuation (was) one that cost both of us dearly’
Jailed: Paedophile Jeremy Forrest, 34, triggered an international manhunt when he went on the run with the 15-year-old pupil
A teenage schoolgirl who fled to France with her maths teacher has revealed how she hoped ‘people would accept the relationship’ right up until his conviction.
Paedophile Jeremy Forrest, 34, triggered an international manhunt when he went on the run with the 15-year-old pupil from Eastbourne, East Sussex, in 2012.
The teacher was released from prison two years ago after serving less than three years of a five-and-a-half-year sentence for child sex and abduction.
Now, the girl – referred to as Gemma for legal reasons – has told Cosmopolitan magazine’s July issue: ‘Of course we knew it was illegal for us to be together.
‘But we genuinely believed that if we stuck it out for a tricky few years, eventually we could return home and people would accept our relationship.’
The girl added: ‘Right up until the very last moment I thought things might be OK, and that people would understand how we’d fallen in love.
‘But when he was found guilty of child abduction and sex with a minor, I broke down in the dock beside his family.’
She said she became depressed after he was sent to prison and she moved out of her mother’s house because their ‘relationship had become so fractured’.
The maths teacher was released from prison two years ago after serving less than three years of a five-and-a-half-year sentence for child sex and abduction
Forrest is seen in a prison van as he arrives at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court in October 2012
She added that Forrest was caught in Bordeaux when they were walking hand-in-hand to a pub and ‘a man in regular clothes jumped out and grabbed him’.
The girl began screaming and begging for help, thinking he was being mugged – but her arms were pushed behind her and it soon became clear it was the police.
She added that Forrest ‘kept mouthing, “It’s fine,” as I was bundled into the back of a van – and that was the last I saw of him, until he stood in front of me in court’.
The girl also began talking to a man on Twitter when she was 16 and he was 21 – but realised after a year of on-and-off romance that he had tried to sell stories about her.
And she told Cosmopolitan journalist Jennifer Savin how she has spoken to Forrest just once after his release from prison after messaging him on Facebook.
Forrest is escorted onto a plane to Britain in October 2012 after being extradited from France
Forrest and the 15-year-old girl were found on Rue Sainte-Catherine in Bordeaux five years ago
But she added: ‘Do I regret my relationship with Jeremy? I can’t say I do, but I now recognise it for what it was: a dangerous infatuation. One that cost both of us dearly.’
Forrest, who is originally from Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, had sex with the girl after she turned 15 and they exchanged romantic messages on social networks.
When police were alerted, the pair fled to France by ferry, travelling under false names. Forrest was spotted in Bordeaux and arrested eight days later.
The pair last saw each other in June 2013 at Lewes Crown Court in East Sussex, where the girl was forced to give evidence about their relationship.
They declared their love for each other across the courtroom as Forrest was jailed for child abduction as well as five charges of sexual activity with a child.
The coffee shop in Bordeaux which Forrest and the girl frequented during their time in the city
The room at the Hotel Huguerie in Bordeaux where Forrest and the girl stayed while in the city
At the time, relatives said that Forrest would return to girl when he was released from jail, but it later emerged he planned to move on with his life without her.
Last August it emerged Forrest had a new girlfriend called Cassie McGeough and had tried to re-invent himself by having his arms tattooed and dressing in black.
The keen amateur musician was seen as ‘cool’ by his former pupils, often talked to them of his love of music and had released a number of videos online.
The girl’s mother has written a book entitled, The Runaway Schoolgirl. In it she told of her fears that her daughter was dead when she vanished from the family home.
She said she blamed herself after failing to spot clues about the teenager’s illicit relationship with Forrest and added that she ‘felt like the worst mum in the world’.