Police stopped their investigations the day before Jeremy Forrest’s alleged abduction after finding ‘no evidence’ on the 15-year-old girl’s phone.
Forrest, a 30-year-old married man formerly from Ringer is standing trial at Lewes Crown court for abducting a pupil. He denies the charge against him.
The court has heard their relationship has turned sexual in the summer of last year and rumours had circulated the school that the pair were sending Twitter messages to each other.
Senior staff at Bishop Bell were aware of the rumours and investigations began with the local authority and the police.
In a video-taped interview with police, the girl said she ‘panicked’ when the authorities began to get involved and fled to France with her teacher.
Alicja Bobela, the assistant head at Bishop bell with responsibilities for child protection, said she spoke to police on September 20 following the visit by officers, where is was agreed both Forrest and the girl’s phones would both be seized.
Mrs Bobela said, “They said that there was no evidence on (the girl’s) phone so they were not going to seize Jeremy’s phone. So we were left with the idea that we had to follow up the investigation.
“We didn’t know where to begin.”
Teachers first became concerned after a number of pupils went to senior staff and told them about the rumours which were circulating the school. They came about after the girl made it clear she had a crush on her maths teacher.
Teachers gave evidence at the trial today (June 14) and explained Forrest was spoken to about the crush on several occasions, warned about encouraging the girl and told to keep his distance. He was also offered support on how to deal with the situation.
The rumours first started during a trip to LA back in February 2012, when some other pupils became annoyed about Forrest showing favouritism to the girl.
Teacher Emma Tremaman, who organised the trip, said the girl had avoided punishment for alleged misbehaviour after Forrest intervened, saying she had not been involved in the incident.
Ms Tremaman said, “There was a group of girls that were complaining about the girl being let off and this is when some of the students claimed that she was always being let off and that she had a crush on Jeremy.”
A second incident of favouritism was also raised in court by Neil Pittman, head of Year Ten, who said the girl had been sent to the ‘Turnaround Centre’ at the school. Mr Pittman explained it was a place pupils were sent as a sanction following truancy of other behaviour problems.
The girl was in the Turnaround Centre but came out for Forrest’s maths classes.
Mr Pittman explained there were sometimes instances when a pupil would be allowed back to lessons for important parts of their studies.
But in court he said, “I wasn’t aware of the reason why, but I did ask myself if that was an example of distancing himself from the student.”
Mr Pittman said he spoke to Forrest about her attending his classes and Forrest said there was a maths exam coming up and she needed to attend the revision sessions.
Mr Pittman later saw Forrest having a ‘jovial’ chat with the girl and another pupil at the school gates during home time.
He told the court, “There was nothing unusual but I just thought on this occasion more distance would have been sensible.”
The case continues.