The step-mum of a schoolgirl abducted by her teacher Jeremy Forrest has spoken of how the high profile case has affected their lives, a year after the teenager ran away to France.
The woman spoke to a national newspaper three months after Forrest, 30, was jailed for five-and-half years in prison after being convicted of child abduction and admitting five counts of sexual activity with a child. He and the schoolgirl, who was 15 at the time, fled to France in September last year, sparking an international police manhunt.
Since Forrest’s sentence the girl has changed her hair colour, has a new name and is focusing on her A-level studies. But her stepmother revealed to the Daily Mail this week how the girl, now 16, is often left in tears over the vicious comments made about her on the internet.
The woman, given the name Dawn by the paper, is married to ‘Mike’ who became the girl’s father when she was 15 months old. Dawn said, “She is very humble and apologetic over the upset she’s caused. She never stops saying sorry, but she was only 15. She didn’t realise her whole life was going to be splattered all over the papers and the internet.”
She says the family, initially feared the girl – given the name Gemma by the paper as her identity is protected by law – had been taken by a stranger and they may never see her alive again after she went missing.
She added they have conflicted feelings about Forrest, “Gemma loves him, and as far as we are aware she is just waiting until he comes out of prison.
“I can’t lie and say there haven’t been times when I have screamed and cursed, called for his blood. He took our kid and that is unforgiveable, but that kind of anger eats you up and you have to let it go.
“I’d like Gemma to meet someone and be happy. If that someone is Jeremy, it’s Jeremy. We’ll support her whatever she decides.”