Jeremy Forrest 'groomed pupil for sex'

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Media captionJeremy Forrest chose not to give evidence

A teacher accused of abducting a schoolgirl and taking her to France could be considered a "paedophile" who "groomed" the pupil, prosecutors said.

Jeremy Forrest, 30, of Chislehurst Road, Petts Wood, south east London, denies child abduction.

Earlier the jury was told that Mr Forrest would not be giving evidence.

The judge told the jurors they could make "any inferences as appear proper" regarding Mr Forrest's decision not to take the stand at Lewes Crown Court.

'Carnal lusts'

The court heard the pupil started having a sexual relationship with her teacher when she was 15 years old.

Summing up the prosecution case, Richard Barton told the jury: "You do not have to decide whether he was a paedophile: you may consider, in the context of what he did, that is not an inappropriate label for him.

"It is about his desires to have that young sexual flesh, to satisfy his own carnal lusts."

He added: "It is interesting to note the woman he chose to marry is a very young-looking, petite woman with her own vulnerabilities.

"What is it that Jeremy Forrest finds attractive about young-looking, vulnerable women?

"There is a word for it. It's called grooming - being caring, being kind, being close, gaining confidence, gaining the trust of that person and then you can do what you want to do with them."

Speaking directly to the defendant, Mr Barton asked: "How did you feel, Mr Forrest, that first time with that 14-year-old girl in the classroom in her school uniform, when you kissed her the first time?

"How was that in accordance with that trust that you have built up?"

Ronald Jaffa, defending, said Mr Forrest had gone to France with the girl because he feared she was suicidal.

He said: "She was very desperate, she had suicidal thoughts and she was assertive.

"If he had not taken her, the alternative consequences were likely to be much worse."

'Caring nature'

The jury had been told the pupil at an East Sussex school became infatuated with the teacher.

Fearing they were about to be exposed, Mr Forrest booked them on a cross-Channel ferry from Dover to Calais on 20 September last year, before spending seven days on the run in France.

Mr Jaffa read a series of character references in which Mr Forrest was described as a "talented and inspirational" teacher who "cared for others" and who had spent his time in prison teaching other inmates.

His sister, Carrie Hanspaul, a mother of three daughters, said she believed his caring nature had got him into trouble.

"He never has a bad word to say about anyone and always strives to do whatever he can to help other people and care for them," she said.

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Image caption Jeremy Forrest's marriage to Emily began to deteriorate soon after their wedding, the court heard

"Unfortunately, I believe this has contributed to his recent actions.

"Jeremy has been in a very difficult relationship for the last six years but did not want to worry any of his family, especially our parents, with his problems.

"I believe he became more and more depressed."

Mr Forrest's uncle, John Forrest, a solicitor, said his nephew was "deeply upset" by the position in which he found himself and was "embarrassed and remorseful about the upset which he has caused to his friends and his family".

Benedict Beaumont, a former ICT teacher at Bishop Bell CofE School, described him as "one of the most gifted teachers that I have ever met".

Friend Dale Ives-Routleff, the best man at the defendant's wedding to his wife Emily, spoke of a visit at Christmas 2011.

"When pressed, he effectively broke down and admitted he was very unhappy at home and described his home/married life as 'miserable, lonely and depressing'," he said.

Judge Michael Lawson adjourned the case until Thursday when will he sum up the case before sending the jury out to consider its verdict.

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