The judge in the Jeremy Forrest abduction case has warned the jury not to let sympathy and emotion get in the way of their verdict.
Forrest, a 30-year-old Bishop Bell maths teacher, wore a suit for the judge’s summing up this morning (Thursday), as he has throughout the trial.
The 15-year-old schoolgirl involved in the case entered the packed courtroom half way through the judge’s summing up.
Her mother was also in the public gallery at Lewes Crown Court but they did not sit together. Forrest’s mother and sister were also in court and spoke to him as he entered the dock from the cells below.
Judge Michael Lawson told the jury of eight men and four women that the case would have raised areas of discussion on the age of consent and ‘adolescent children experimenting’.
He told the jurors, “They are not for this court.” He added, “If that was allowed we would never reach a verdict. If you wanted to decide the case on sympathy for individuals in the case you would have different views. You will decide the case according to the law as it is and not as others or yourselves might want it to be.”
The judge said everyone involved, including the girl and her friends, knew the law and the age of consent. He added, “Each understood what the law was and we know, that when the defendant decided to continue that relationship on whatever motive, he knew the consequences. He looked it up. He looked up what would happen, what the law was and what his sentence might be.
“He was able, because the law is certain, to make a decision and that is as it should be. At the time he considered it was a risk worth taking.”
However, the judge went on to tell the jury they were to return their verdict on the one child abduction charge and reminded them the girl’s consent was ‘irrelevant’. He went on to explain that taking a child due to necessity was a defence in law and said it could be applied in ‘extreme circumstances’ and if the child was in danger of death or serious injury.
Mr Lawson said Forrest had not taken to the stand and he told the jury, “He has not said what alternatives he considered.
“He seems to rely on what the girl said when cross-examined by the defence.”
Mr Lawson said the jury should consider on the facts and asked them, “What was the situation of September 20? Was it a need to protect her from herself or a situation of his own making?”
He re-capped the evidence over the last two weeks and spent a total of one hour and 35 minutes addressing the jury.
The jury went out at 12.15pm to consider its verdict.