THE wife of disgraced Eastbourne teacher, Jeremy Forrest, has filed for divorce, according to his sister.
The 30-year-old Bishop Bell maths teacher was jailed for five-and-a-half years last week for abducting and having sex with a 15-year-old pupil.
Now, according to Forrest’s sister Carrie Hanspaul, his wife Emily Forrest, 32, has begun divorce proceedings. The couple met in 2007 and then married in April 2011.
“Divorce proceedings are going through, which she initiated,” said Ms Hanspaul, who was speaking on ITV’s “Daybreak” programme.
She added: “They have been very isolated. There had never been a falling out, it was just a very difficult relationship. They just withdrew more and more from us. None of us has spoken to her since they left for Bordeaux.”
That was September last year, when Forrest and the teenage pupil fled to the south-west French city just days after police had seized their mobile phones when suspicions had been aroused about their relationship.
And she revealed to presenters Lorraine Kelly and Aled Jones that Forrest and the schoolgirl, who is now aged 16, were still very much in love.
Earlier this week, the schoolgirl’s father said he would shake Forrest’s hand and walk is daughter down the aisle if the couple wanted to marry.
Forrest and the girl mouthed “I love you” to each other across the court room when the schoolteacher was found guilty last week, while before the trial the teenager wrote a letter to his parents vowing she would wait for her lover and said she was focusing on building a future for them both.
The jailed teacher’s sister said on the ITV programme that she too would support the pair.
“If they manage to survive all of this and he stays in there all that time, she will be 21, he will be 35,” explained Ms Hanspaul.
“That then would become, if you like, a normal relationship and we would support them. If that’s what they chose to do.”
She added: “My brother has expressed genuine love for her and I don’t believe he would have put our family through all this had he not truly believed that he loved her.”
However, Ms Hanspaul was adamant that her brother was not a paedophile, despite the assertion made at the two-week trial at Lewes Crown Court by the prosecution, who claimed that Forrest had started grooming his “vulnerable and infatuated” victim when she was just 14-years-old to satisfy his “carnal lust”.
“I think it’s the wrong word,” she said. “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.”
Asked how the family were coping with the jailing of Forrest and the huge media coverage which surrounded the trial, Ms Hanspaul added: “We are dealing with it one step at a time. Our main focus as a family is getting him through this sentence. I can’t speak for her, but I can speak for my brother and he still loves her. She was in court on the day of the verdict and she obviously loves him.
“She has already written to him and she wrote to my parents around Christmas time apologising for the whole situation, the pain we were all having to go through, and expressing, once again, that they love each other.
“She referred to him as being ‘wonderful’. She said she felt safer in France with Jeremy than she had felt at school and at home.”
Asked whether Forrest should have received more support from the school at the time the couple had begun their relationship, Ms Hanspaul said: “I think there were things which could have been done. The school were aware for seven months that something was going on. I know they spoke to him and we accept that he did lie to the school.
“But attempts were made to contact the girl’s mother – seven phone calls that weren’t returned – but if they really were that concerned, you really can do more than leave a message on an answering machine.
“Again, by the time the police were called in, if the school had said that they’d had suspicions for this long, then why wasn’t he arrested on suspicion that day which would have stopped them leaving the country?
“I think both of them needed support as people.”
Ms Hanspaul said that the family accepted the jail sentence – her parents were “exhausted” and “emotional” about what had happened over the past year. She also denied reports that her brother had been assaulted in prison following his conviction.
Asked if she was angry at Forrest for putting the family through the ordeal, Ms Hanspaul said: “Yes, of course. He knows that. We had that conversation right at the beginning. He’s been told off by all of us, but being angry at him isn’t going to help him.
“We told him right from the start that we would support him through this, we were not going to judge him, we were going to leave that to the courts, and we would just do everything we could as a family to help him because he has been suffering for a good many years, possibly with depression.
“He had become so withdrawn from the family, his marriage had been difficult. In a way, we saw something coming but we didn’t know what it was going to be.
“I just hope my brother manages to stay strong and I think he will come out of this a stronger person. He has almost gone back to the brother I once knew four or five years ago.”