THE step-father of missing Eastbourne schoolgirl Megan Stammers who was located safe and well in France yesterday has spoken of his relief.
Martin Stammers appeared at a media briefing in Lewes last night organised by Sussex Police.
He said: “Megan’s mum, Danielle and I, are so relieved that Megan has been found safe and well and can’t wait to be reunited with her.
“The family are overjoyed at the outcome after what has been an emotional roller coaster.
“We would like to say a huge thank you to Sussex Police and the French police and authorities for all their help in finding Megan. Also to the UK media, who snowballed it into the international media and to those public who have tweeted, retweeted and put messages on Facebook to raise awareness of Megan.
“I would ask that the media now respect our privacy. I will be closing down those social media sites for a period of time, so the family can concentrate on spending time with Megan in private.”
Chief Inspector Jason Tingley highlighted the role of the media in helping to track down the couple. He said: “Megan Stammers and Jeremy Forrest were located safe and well today in France.
“As a result of the extensive media coverage during the last week, there were four possible sightings of Megan and Jeremy in France and a number of unconfirmed reports elsewhere Europe. Two potential sightings were in the south west region, which we were working to confirm.
“Yesterday, Thursday 27 September - there was a fifth sighting, this time in the town of Bordeaux, after a member of the public recognised Jeremy from television coverage that afternoon. We were swiftly able to confirm this sighting.
“A joint operation between the French Police, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and Sussex Police was commenced immediately, and as a result both Megan and Jeremy were safely located and detained in the city of Bordeaux at 12.20pm UK time today (Friday 28 September).
“The French police took full operational lead for the safe recovery of Megan and Jeremy. We also received support from the SOCA liaison officer in Paris, who assisted with local knowledge and tactical advice.
“Megan is now in the care of British Consular staff and a Sussex Police child protection team officer, who has joined her in France. She will return to the UK to be with her family over the weekend.
“Jeremy is in custody in Bordeaux after his arrest and the process of his extradition will now commence, which could take a number of days.”
A statement from Jeremy’s parents, Jim and Julie Forrest, said: “We are pleased that Megan and Jeremy have been found safe and well. This has been an ordeal for all the families concerned.
“We would like to thank Sussex and the French police as well as the media for their assistance. We are relieved that the search is finally over and everyone can now focus on a safe and secure return for them both.”
Chief Inspector Tingley concluded: “I would like to thank all those who have supported this enquiry.
“An active investigation continues. With Megan and Jeremy now safely located - which has always been our top priority - our future updates will be via more conventional methods.”
Shortly after the media briefing Sussex Police confirmed that Megan’s family have been in contact with her by phone and can continue to do so as they wish until she returns to the UK.