A teenage girl who fled to France with her maths teacher has said she was in love with him.
The Bishop Bell pupil, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had her police interview played in court at the trial of teacher Jeremy Forrest yesterday afternoon (June 11).
The married 30-year-old teacher, formerly of Broyleside Cottages, Ringmer, is standing trial at Lewes Crown Court after denying child abduction.
The court heard Forrest and the girl started a relationship, which became sexual over the summer of 2012.
During the interview, the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she had a ‘crush’ on Forrest and started behaving better in his classes.
She told police she would often leave things in his classroom so she could return to get them and spend time alone with him.
Prosecutor Richard Barton QC told the jury it was an ’infatuation’ when he opened the case on Monday (June 10).
In a police interview, the girl said: “I did make excuses to go back to his classroom and stuff but I never actually said to him how I felt, he did not even know until after the trip to L.A.”
The court heard Forrest had been one of the teachers on a week-long trip to Los Angeles that the girl was also on and that the pair had “arranged to sit together” on the return flight as they both had a fear of flying.
She said: “On the way back we said we would sit next to each other because we were both scared of flying.”
Mr Barton told the court other pupils had seen the pair hold hands during the return flight to the UK.
The court heard gossip had started to circulate around Bishop Bell School.
In interview the girl said people had ‘made their own stories up.’
The girl said he treated her normally but ‘an atmosphere’ had gradually developed between them.
She said they bonded over similar music taste and began exchanging messages on Twitter.
When asked about how the relationship had developed, the girl said: “The texts started off with a lot of kisses. When we first began texting, we were gradually getting more like into a relationship, and there were photos and stuff like that, and there were other text messages.
“But we didn’t start a relationship until the end of May and we decided that it was what we wanted to do. Around this time, we began to meet up outside of school.
“There were a few times when I would go over to his house... and after that things got even more serious.”
The court heard, that once the relationship had become sexual, Forrest would book hotels under the name of ‘Mr and Mrs Forrest’ and the young girl would tell her mother she was staying at a friend’s house. Mr Barton said Forrest would have to lie to his wife during the nights away.
He is also alleged to have taken the girl to his house for sex while his wife was away.
The pair also went out in his car and to the cemetery.
During the opening from the prosecution, Mr Barton said teachers at the school were aware of the girl’s ‘crush’ and had tried to support Forrest in handling the situation.
Mr Barton said when the girl went into Year 11 she had been moved out of Forrest’s class to limit contact.
He said: “Of course by now this was of little effect because they were in regular contact outside of school hours.”
The court heard it was when police took the girl’s mobile phone for analysis that the pair decided to flee to France.
Mr Barton said: “Once it became apparent that his illicit relationship with the girl would be fully exposed and he would be in serious trouble, he compounded his criminal conduct by fleeing the country with her, in an attempt to avoid punishment.
“Whilst undoubtedly a willing participant in all that occurred, their disappearance without informing anyone of their whereabouts led to several days and nights of anxious waiting for the girl’s family, and extensive and time-consuming searches by the authorities before the pair were tracked down and apprehended.”
The trial continues.