Back in the autumn of last year, I wrote about the news story which had hit the headlines - the maths teacher by the name of Jeremy Forrest who'd fled to France with his 15-year old girl pupil. I'd better not link to it, because I'm no longer legally allowed to name her, despite the fact that like everyone else I could and did back then.
Nine months on, the wheels of justice have turned inexorably on, and after a two-week trial the sentence handed down on Friday was five-and-a-half years imprisonment. What? You get less than that for killing someone. Having said that, it was rather telling, I thought, that the initial charge of child abduction for which the jury found him guilty only accounted for a year of the sentence. Perhaps even the learned judge thought it rather quaint to "abduct" a willing participant who testified in Court that she pretty much called the shots in the whole episode. But alas, their undoing appears to have been the fact that not only had they had illicit sex on multiple occasions before the fateful ferry trip, they hadn't been altogether overly discreet about it. I mean, come on now.... if you go bragging to your mates that you were 'at it' eight times in one night, and store photos on your phone, don't be surprised if someone drops you in it. The icing on the prosecution's cake.
And of course, the coup de grâce was that it was her teacher who'd crossed the line, broken all the rules and "betrayed the trust". Had it been another pupil, there'd have been a bit of aggravation but on nothing like the same scale, and it probably wouldn't even have ended up in Court - any more than the thousands of other older boys who have underage sex. The prosecutor predictably enough then went for the jugular by labelling the defendant a paedophile, and it's a pity the judge didn't see fit to correct him, if only for the jury's benefit, by pointing out that the term when used correctly describes sexual interest in pre-pubescent children.
Not like Romeo and Juliet, then? I failed O level English Literature so I wouldn't know. But Juliet appears in this case to have been supporting her Romeo almost to the extent of being what I think the Americans would term a 'hostile witness'. And in a Sun exclusive *where else* she declares she's still in love, was capable all along of making her own decisions and will wait for her Romeo's release.
Knock off the nine months he spent on remand, and with automatic release on licence halfway through the sentence, by which time she'll have turned 18 and be free to do as she pleases. Is the love story then going to have a happy ending? I wonder.....