The sister of a teacher accused of abducting a schoolgirl to France said she believed his caring nature had got him into trouble.

This was revealed as Richard Barton, prosecuting, said Forrest, 30, of Broyleside Cottages, Ringmer, could be considered a “paedophile” who “groomed” the 15-year-old girl who he is accused of abducting to France in September last year.

Today Ronald Jaffa, defending Jeremy Forrest, read out a series of character references.

Forrest’s sister Carrie Hanspaul  described her brother as “good-natured and extremely mild-mannered”.

She said: “He never has a bad word to say about anyone and always strives to do whatever he can to help other people and care for them.

“Unfortunately I believe this has contributed to his recent actions.”

His uncle, solicitor John Forrest, added: "He is deeply upset by the position in which he finds himself and is embarrassed and remorseful about the upset which he has caused to his friends and his family.”

Former colleague Susan Pinder, a retired teacher at Forrest's first school, Bishop Justus CE Secondary School in Bromley, Kent, told how he had been teaching fellow inmates at Lewes Prison, while Dale Ives-Routleff, who was best man at Forrest’s wedding to Emily, said: “He was very unhappy at home and described his home/married life as 'miserable, lonely and depressing'.”

Benedict Beaumont, a former ICT teacher at Bishop Bell School in Eastbourne – where Forrest taught, said: “Jeremy was one of the most gifted teachers that I have ever met.”

Police officer Terry Meegan, a cousin of Forrest's mother, said that he was a “talented songwriter, singer and guitar player and was a member of a group called the Simpletons which played gigs to raise money for charity”.

Forrest, who denies child abduction, chose not to give evidence.

Mr Barton, summing up the prosecution case, said: “You do not have to decide whether he was a paedophile; you may consider, in the context of what he did, that is not an inappropriate label for him.

“It is about his desires to have that young sexual flesh, to satisfy his own carnal lusts."

Mr Jaffa, summing up the defence case, said: “She was very desperate, she had suicidal thoughts and she was assertive. If he had not taken her, the alternative consequences were likely to be much worse.”

The case was adjourned until tomorrow when Judge Michael Lawson will sum up the case.