Charlene Downes Murder: Police Launch Fresh Appeal 10 Years After Disappearance
The Huffington Post UK | Posted: 01/11/2013 09:07 GMT |
Detectives are reopening an investigation into the murder of tragic Blackpool teenager Charlene Downes, 10 years after she vanished. No trace of the 14-year-old has ever been found after she disappeared on November 1, 2003.
Charlene Downes was just 14 years old when she disappeared. Prosecutors in the 2007 trial of a takeaway owner accused and later acquitted of her death claimed her body was chopped up and had "gone into kebabs."
The court heard Charlene was one of a number of young white girls who gravitated to Blackpool's takeaways to have sex with older men. Lancashire Police said today - the 10th anniversary of Charlene's disappearance - that the force was renewing its appeal for information, and hopes to jog people's memory about what happened to her a decade ago.
Charlene's parents, both active members of the British National Party, will tomorrow be taking part in a demo blaming "Muslim paedophile gangs for their daughter's exploitation," the Times reported.
Charlene's mother, Karen Downes, told the BBC: "I'm still as devastated as I was 10 years ago, and I still live in hope that one day she will be found.
"I will never give up until justice is done for her, and I'm very disappointed that nothing has been done by now."
She added: "I want the police to do more, they have done nothing in the past five years since the case collapsed, they have just brushed it under the carpet or put it in a dusty cupboard somewhere."
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Rhodes said he would be bolstering the investigative team looking in Charlene's case, with a team of specialist officers assigned to it full time.
He said: "There will be people who know what happened to Charlene. She was just 14 years old when she went missing and was murdered, her body has never been found and I would appeal to anyone who has any information to come forward. It's not too late to make a difference," the Mirror reported.
The inquiry into Charlene's disappearance is one of Lancashire's longest-running investigations involving a child missing from home.
It was alleged in the 2007 trial that Jordanian immigrant Iyad Albattikhi, who ran Funny Boyz fast food shop in the resort, strangled the teenager after having sex with her. He was later formally cleared of Charlene's murder while co-defendant Mohammed Reveshi was acquitted of helping to dispose of her body.
The jury at Preston Crown Court was discharged after failing to reach a verdict in their trial and a scheduled retrial collapsed when the Crown Prosecution Service conceded it had ''grave doubts'' about the reliability of some of the evidence in the case. A review by the Independent Police Complaints Commission later concluded the investigating team were guilty of a strategic and tactical failure in the management of the audio and video material they obtained while a detective who had the job of transcribing conversations that had been secretly recorded between the two suspects was forced to resign over the way she handled it.
Prosecutors claimed either Mr Albattikhi, known as Eddie, or his Iranian landlord and business partner, Mr Reveshi, was having underage sex with Charlene and they would be in trouble if the police found out.
Both men denied even knowing the teenager, who had been expelled from school and spent her time hanging around the shops on the promenade.
Police started a murder inquiry when David Cassidy, a former friend of Mr Albattikhi, said the accused's brother had told him the schoolgirl had been strangled and chopped up. Detectives later bugged both Mr Reveshi's home and car with secret listening devices and claimed the defendants could be heard on the tapes discussing her murder, with references to eating her body and a burial place. But much of the content was hard to decipher at the trial with sound experts and police disagreeing over what was actually said.
Both of the accused were later reported to have received six-figure compensation sums for false imprisonment.