Jeremy Forrest 'desperate to be near schoolgirl lover' Megan Stammers
THE maths teacher who eloped to France with a 15-year old pupil decided not fight extradition to enable him to remain "near to the one he loves".
Mr Forrest’s lawyer suggested that the 30-year-old had not yet accepted that his relationship with Megan Stammers was over and hoped to remain in touch with the teenager, despite facing charges of child abduction.
He was arrested in Bordeaux on Friday and is expected to be extradited tomorrow. Megan was flown back to the UK on Saturday after the pair were recognised by the owner of a bar at which Forrest had attempted to get work.
A witness who saw them shortly before they were apprehended said he thought they had looked like “Bonny and Clyde”, America’s most notoriously romantic fugitives.
Daniel Lalanne, Mr Forrest’s lawyer, insisted that theirs was a story of “love and passion” that would endure.
He told the local Sud Ouest newspaper: "We have discussed (how he feels about being taken back to Britain) … and he doesn’t want to contest it.
"This is primarily because going home will take him back closer to the one he loves.
"Jeremy Forrest is in no pervert. This is a story only about love and passion … I believe it will never end.
"His only crime is to have fallen in love with a 15-year-old, without any recourse to violence or manipulation.”
Mr Lalanne said Forrest had told him: “I didn’t hurt her – I love her. I’ve done nothing wrong except fall in love.”
He said Mr Forrest was "devastated that his love story has been brought to such a brutal end” but remained philosophical and attentive to the legal proceedings, which he had asked to be fast-tracked so he could get back home.
The teacher is being held at Gradignan penitentiary centre, a notoriously dangerous and overcrowded local jail, where he has been assigned an English-speaking guard.
He has admitted that he and Megan fled to France, where the age of consent is 15, because they believed the country would be “more understanding” of their affair. The amateur musician had travelled to Bordeaux in 2009 when he attempted to earn a living busking on the streets.
Legal sources disclosed that their plan had been to remain in the picturesque city until Megan turned 16 next June and was no longer a minor under British law.
The European arrest warrant reportedly stated that the teenager was believed to have been travelling on a passport belonging to Mr Forrest’s 31-year-old wife Emily, whom he married last year.
The pair took a ferry from Dover to Calais on Thursday September 20 and arrived in Bordeaux the following day, when Mr Forrest paid €58 in cash to stay in a two-star hotel under the false name of Jack Grant.
They then moved to at least one other budget hotel while he looked for cash-in-hand bar jobs to avoid being traced to credit card transactions.
Matt Mann, assistant manager at the Houses of Parliament pub, said Mr Forrest had come in on the eve of his arrest, handing him a CV under the false name of Jack Francis Dean.
"He said he was 26 and had GCSE French, which is pretty basic,” he said.
"She looked a lot younger than him but not 15, I would have served her. They sat in the corner at the back and he had a drink, Guinness.
"He looked a bit sheepish. They were acting a bit odd, nervous, keeping to themselves. I thought they looked like Bonnie and Clyde. Not the normal type of couple we get in here."
Police finally intercepted the pair after the manageress of a British pub called HMS Victory contacted British police, who alerted their French colleagues.
A police source reportedly said that Mr Forrest had just €10 left in his wallet when plainclothes policemen swooped on the couple as they strolled “hand in hand” down rue Sainte-Catherine shopping street on Friday at 12.15pm.
“I saw an unmarked police car — its siren was blaring and its blue light was flashing — reverse fast down the Cours Victor Hugo and stop next to them," said a waiter at the nearby Café des Arts.
“Suddenly there were lots of policemen in plain clothes. They blocked the two in a side street and then the car rushed off."
Hours earlier, they had been seen holding hands and joking together, apparently unconcerned about the international manhunt.
Mr Forrest was reportedly seen using his phone to take photographs of Megan posing in front of an obelisk in the centre of the historic Place de la Victoire.
The witness called the police but the pair had moved on by the time officers arrived. They were arrested nearby shortly afterwards.
Martin Stammers, Megan’s stepfather, said the family was “over the moon” that the schoolgirl had been found.
"I always had that belief that she was strong enough within herself to remain safe and well,” he said.
By Henry Samuel and Rosa Silverman in Bordeaux Telegraph.co.uk