Wife can't face teacher over teen lover
The wife of a British school teacher broke down in tears and had to leave the courtroom as she gave evidence about the couple's last meal together the night before he left for France with his 15-year-old schoolgirl lover.
Maths teacher Jeremy Forrest, 30, denies abducting the teen, a pupil at Bishop Bell School in Eastbourne, Sussex.
The court was told that Forrest and the girl became close following a school trip to Los Angeles in February last year.
They exchanged increasingly intimate tweets and text messages before starting a sexual relationship over the northern summer holidays.
Giving evidence in the Lewes Crown Court Emily Forrest, 32, gestured at her estranged husband sitting a few metres away and said: "It's really distracting."
She broke down, and the judge called a break in the trial as Mrs Forrest stood with her back to the court weeping, the Daily Mail reported.
It was the first time she had seen her husband since he allegedly absconded to France with the pupil last September, spending eight days on the run.
When Mrs Forrest returned to the court 30 minutes later she continued to give evidence behind a red curtain hidden from her husband's gaze.
She told the court how she and her husband of just over a year had returned to their home in Ringmer, East Sussex, after their last meal together in Lewes town centre on September 19.
She said: "I went to bed and Jeremy kind of tucked me in. He told me that he loved me."
"When I left in the morning I was in quite a good mood because Jeremy told me he loved me so I was like pestering him in bed, just being silly, just singing."
Later that day Forrest texted to say he would not be home that evening. Later he sent a message saying: "Don't worry I'll call you tomorrow. I love you."
The text is believed to have been sent minutes after Forrest boarded a ferry crossing the English Channel with the schoolgirl.
Mrs Forrest told the court the marriage had been in difficulty at the beginning of 2012 and the couple had only had sex once between last May and Forrest's disappearance.
She said: "He was staying out a lot more, drinking a lot of alcohol, coming back in the morning, not telling me where he was. It was hard."
Despite the problems, Forrest raised the subject of having children together during the 2012 summer holidays.
"I just thought it was a bit weird because the relationship wasn't great so I thought it was strange to bring it up."
The BBC reported Mrs Forrest had asked her husband to stop sending tweets to the girl because it was not appropriate.
"I didn't think there was anything in it," she said. But she thought he could get into trouble.
She said her husband had reassured her there was no problem with his Twitter conversations because they were on a public forum.
The mother of the schoolgirl told the court how Forrest phoned her in July, a few weeks before he allegedly abducted her, to quash rumours he and the girl were involved, the Daily Mail said.
"He said he wanted to nip it all in the bud before the school started again in September. He said she was being a bit of a pain. He said that she was hanging around him," the mother said.
"He said he could not allow this to ruin his career. I felt like I was coaching and consoling him because he was becoming upset."
She told the court how she later confronted her daughter over Forrest's claims.
She said: "I went mad at her. I was mortified my daughter could put someone in this position. I am a professional person myself. I was horrified and ashamed. Clearly I was upset and I had a go at her.
"She said it was not true. She was crying and broke down. I said if there's nothing in this you must tell people it's not true."
The mother also said she had been warned by the school about rumours connecting the pair at least six months before they disappeared, the Guardian reported.
She was told "there were rumours amongst the pupils that she had got close to him but there was nothing found", the mother said.
The jury was told that a number of warnings were sounded in the school over the following months as their closeness became obvious.
Forrest denied anything was happening and no action was taken until police and child protection officers visited the girl's house in September following reports her phone contained intimate photos of Forrest.
The pair went to France the next day.
The court has heard from the girl that one of her primary reasons for wanting to flee when she thought the relationship was about to be revealed was concern about her mother's reaction.
In evidence she said Forrest had reluctantly accompanied her to France primarily because he feared for her safety if, as threatened, she ran away alone.
The pair were eventually tracked down in Bordeaux, when French police arrested Forrest after a tip-off.
The girl's mother said she heard nothing from her daughter while she was in France: "I thought she was dead and I did ask the police that as well."
- © Fairfax NZ News