A British schoolgirl and her married Maths teacher, who triggered a Europe-wide hunt after running away together a week ago, were found yesterday by police as they strolled in a southwestern French city.
The teacher, Jeremy Forrest, 30, was arrested and placed in custody in Bordeaux’s central police station, while Megan Stammers, 15, was under police protection, officials said.
“The couple were found on a public street in the centre of Bordeaux,” a spokesman said, adding that Stammers was in good health and would be reunited with her family “as soon as possible”.
Another police source said they were arrested in the city’s main shopping street – the 1.2-kilometre pedestrian rue Saint-Catherine – while going for a job interview.
Forrest was later seen leaving the police station yesterday evening in an unmarked police car. He was hidden from view by officers and the vehicle left for an unknown destination, accompanied by two escort cars. A source close to the investigation said Stammers would be handed over to the British consulate in Bordeaux.
Prosecutors emphasised that French police were not investigating the case but simply carrying out an international arrest warrant issued by British authorities. The arrest warrant was issued on the basis of a suspected offence of child abduction although there was never any suggestion that Stammers had not left voluntarily.
Under French law, a 15-year-old is not considered a minor in sexual terms, unlike in Britain, where the age of consent is 16. Forrest could, however, be deemed to have committed a crime in France if he is found to have abused the position of authority he had as Stammers’s teacher.
The teacher, who plays in a rock band and is married to a 31-year-old woman, had hinted at a “moral dilemma” on his blog four months ago. (AFP)