Petts Wood: Jeremy Forrest Sister Defends Him

22 June 2013, 08:24 | Updated: 25 June 2013, 12:44

The sister of runaway maths teacher Jeremy Forrest has revealed his wife has launched divorce proceedings against him.

Speaking on ITV's Daybreak programme, Carrie Hanspaul said: "Divorce proceedings are going through, which she initiated.''

It has been reported that Emily Forrest was trying to decide if she wants to salvage her marriage after the 30-year-old from Petts Wood was jailed for five-and-a-half years for child abduction and five charges of sexual activity with a child.

Forrest, who fled to France with the girl when she was 15, received the jail sentence at Lewes Crown Court last Friday.

Ms Hanspaul said that Forrest and his wife had a "very difficult relationship''.

She said: "None of us has spoken to her since they left for Bordeaux. Divorce proceedings are going through, which she initiated.''

She said her brother still loved the girl with whom he went to France, who was in court on the day of the verdict and obviously still loved him.

Asked if her family would go to their wedding if the couple stayed together and got married, Ms Hanspaul said: "Obviously, if they have managed to survive all of this, and he stays in there all that time, she will be 21, he will be 35, that then would become, if you like, a normal relationship, and yeah, obviously, we would support them, if that's what they chose to do.''

She denied that her brother is a paedophile, as he has been portrayed.

She said: "I think it's the wrong word. She is 15, she's not 11. She's under-age, but the general definition of a paedophile is somebody who is interested in pre-pubescent girls, generally under the age of 11, so I think it's wrong that that's what he's being branded.''

Meanwhile, Bishop Bell school in Eastbourne where Forrest used to teach maths said in a statement they were "deeply shocked by his actions and his betrayal of the trust" that was placed in him.

Sussex police are also investigating whether Forrest contacted the girl he ran away with to get her to change her evidence.

The trial judge said her evidence differed from what she had originally told police.

The jury took less than two hours to convict Forrest. The defendant, who remained stony-faced, turned to the girl and said: "I love you,'' as the verdict was about to be announced. The girl sobbed and said "I am sorry'' as he was led back to the cells."

Forrest befriended his "vulnerable'' victim when she was just 14 .