‘Love and passion’ for Megan Stammers led teacher to agree return, says lawyer
A TEACHER accused of child abduction only agreed to be returned from France to face justice in Britain so that he could be closer to the 15-year-old pupil he disappeared with, according to his lawyer.
Jeremy Forrest, 30, and Megan Stammers stayed in budget hotels during eight days on the run from police before they were found in Bordeaux on Friday.
Forrest, who is married, is now in custody and Megan has been flown home to be reunited with her family in Eastbourne.
The maths teacher will not fight extradition to the UK.
His Bordeaux lawyer, Daniel Lalanne, said: “We have discussed how he feels about being taken back to Britain and he will not contest it. This is primarily because going home will take him back closer to the person he loves. What these two people have been through is a story of intense love and passion.
“His only crime is to have fallen in love with a 15-year-old, without any recourse to violence or manipulation. Of course, he is devastated and only wants to be reunited with Megan.”
Forrest is to appear before a court in Bordeaux tomorrow, where extradition proceedings will be heard. The teacher has already admitted that he and Megan fled to France – where the age of sexual consent is 15 – to be in a country that would be “more understanding” about their affair, Mr Lalanne said.
The lawyer said the pair planned to “lie low” in Bordeaux for another six months until they could legally return to the UK as lovers.
Forrest was using the pseudonym “Jack Grant” and claimed to be a freelance music journalist. He had started applying for cash-in-hand bar jobs so he could not be tracked down by using his bank card.
But after a Europe-wide manhunt, police acting on a tip-off found the couple in the city’s busy Rue Sainte-Catherine shopping street at 12:15pm on Friday.
Mr Lalanne added: “He is very upset that his love story has been brought to such a brutal end. He was arrested while trying to find a job in order to keep their love affair going in a country that would be a bit more understanding.”
Witnesses who saw Forrest during a brief court appearance last Friday said he looked like “a broken man”.
One said: “I think it had hit him that whatever fantasy of a romantic future with Megan he had once held had finally evaporated. He was utterly dejected. He looked sallow and downcast, his eyes blank and lifeless. He looked bedraggled, unshaven and completely dispirited.”
The pair had fled Britain on a cross-Channel ferry from Dover to Calais on 20 September. It was claimed that Megan used her 37-year-old mother’s passport to flee the country.
They then dumped Forrest’s black Ford Fiesta in Paris and took a train 400 miles to Bordeaux, arriving the next day.
Megan’s stepfather, Martin Stammer, said the family was “over the moon” she had now been found and flown home. He added: “I always had that belief that she was strong enough within herself to remain safe and well.”
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