Saturday 10 December 2016

New CCTV footage of missing teen girl released on 13th anniversary of her disappearance

Pat Hurst

Published 01/11/2016 | 07:16

Undated handout file photo issued by Lancashire Police of Charlene Downes, 14, who disappeared from her home town of Blackpool on Saturday, November 1, 2003, as murder squad detectives have released new footage of her on the day she vanished 13 years ago. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday November 1, 2016. See PA story POLICE Charlene. Photo credit should read: Lancashire Police/PA Wire
NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Undated handout file photo issued by Lancashire Police of Charlene Downes, 14, who disappeared from her home town of Blackpool on Saturday, November 1, 2003, as murder squad detectives have released new footage of her on the day she vanished 13 years ago. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday November 1, 2016. See PA story POLICE Charlene. Photo credit should read: Lancashire Police/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

Murder squad detectives investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl have released new footage of her on the day she vanished 13 years ago.

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Charlene Downes, 14, disappeared from her home town of Blackpool on Saturday, November 1, 2003. No trace of her has ever been found.

A pair of jeans similar to those worn by Charlene Downes, 14, when she disappeared from her home town of Blackpool on Saturday, November 1, 2003 Credit: Lancashire Police/PA Wire
A pair of jeans similar to those worn by Charlene Downes, 14, when she disappeared from her home town of Blackpool on Saturday, November 1, 2003 Credit: Lancashire Police/PA Wire

The images, which have been released for the first time, show Charlene with her sister Rebecca on Bank Hey Street in Blackpool town centre at 3.25pm on that Saturday afternoon, with the pair walking towards the Coral Island amusement arcade.

Charlene returned home shortly after the images were captured but then went back out into Blackpool town centre later that evening and was never seen again.

The clothes she is wearing in the footage are the same as when she vanished.

Despite a long investigation, numerous media appeals and a £100,000 reward, nobody has ever been brought to justice.

Two takeaway workers were acquitted of her murder in 2007 after a trial heard her body was chopped up and had "gone into kebabs".

A team of detectives continue to work on the case and the new footage has been uncovered following a review of the CCTV.

Charlene Downes, 14, who disappeared from her home town of Blackpool on Saturday, November 1, 2003, as murder squad detectives have released new footage of her on the day she vanished 13 years ago Credit: Lancashire Police/PA Wire
Charlene Downes, 14, who disappeared from her home town of Blackpool on Saturday, November 1, 2003, as murder squad detectives have released new footage of her on the day she vanished 13 years ago Credit: Lancashire Police/PA Wire

Detective Superintendent Andy Webster, from Lancashire Police, said: "It has been thirteen years since Charlene disappeared but we are as determined as ever to find her killer or killers.

"Hopefully these pictures of Charlene on the day she disappeared will help jog someone's memory and I would urge anyone with information, however insignificant they feel it may be, to come and speak to us.

"I have always been convinced that there are people who know what happened to Charlene but have not yet come forward to speak to the police.

"You may have been present when she was murdered or may simply have information about how she was killed and what happened to her body.

"For whatever reasons, you may have chosen not to speak out previously, and I can understand that, but as we seek to find out what happened your information could be vital to take the case forward.

"If anyone is reluctant to speak to us for fear of reprisals I would reassure them that every measure is taken to ensure their safety.

"Also, if you are afraid you could incriminate yourself, let me reassure you that our main objective is to find Charlene's killer or killers.

"As part of our inquiries we are also focussing on the wider issue of child sexual exploitation in Blackpool at around the time of Charlene's disappearance and we have identified a number of people who could potentially be victims and offenders, and we will be seeking to make arrests and to prosecute abusers in the near future."

In June, detectives working on the Charlene Downes inquiry arrested two men on suspicion of historic sex offences.

Kashif Gul, 39, of Foxhall Road, Blackpool, is charged with rape, attempted rape, gross indecency with a child and indecency with a child.

A man, 50, from Blackpool, arrested on suspicion of indecent assault and taking indecent images of a child was bailed but is now wanted after failing to answer his bail.

The above offences were allegedly committed in the early 2000s and relate to two girls aged 14 or 15 at the time. There is no suggestion of a direct link to Charlene.

Takeaway owner Iyad Albattikhi was acquitted of Charlene's murder and his co-defendant Mohammed Reveshi was acquitted of helping to dispose of her body after a trial in 2007.

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting log number LC-20161031-0381 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers.org they can email: charlenedownesinvestigation@lancashire.pnn.police.uk

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