Man,51 held over Charlene murder in 2003
Breakthrough in ‘kebab’ kill case
DETECTIVES are quizzing a suspect over the murder of teenager Charlene Downes, who is feared to have been chopped up into KEBABS by a child grooming sex gang.
Schoolgirl Charlene, 14, of Blackpool, went missing in November 2003 after heading off to meet up with friends on the promenade.
No trace of her has ever been found but detectives believe her body was chopped up and had “gone into kebabs” at a takeaway in the town.
Police announced a breakthrough in the cold case after a man, 51, who lived in the Lancashire seaside resort at the time of Charlene’s disappearance, had been arrested yesterday on suspicion of her murder.
Last month, Charlene’s family announced they planned to sue police over the handling of the case.
Her mum Karen is said to be taking legal action after detectives appealed for witnesses with “new CCTV footage” which had in fact been sitting in their archives for more than a decade.
The investigation has been dogged by problems ever since. A 2007 murder trial collapsed because of police errors, and the IPCC watchdog ruled the force’s blunders meant the killer may never be found.
Two men charged over her disappearance joked that Charlene had “gone into kebabs”, a jury was told at the original trial at Preston Crown Court.
Last year a cold case team revisited the investigation files and discovered the CCTV footage of Charlene walking with her sister Rebecca on the day she vanished.
Karen says if it had been shown closer to the time she vanished it could have led to vital evidence from witnesses.
A £100,000 reward is still being offered for information on what happened to Charlene.
Lancashire Police officers have taken more than 4,800 witness statements and followed 10,500 lines of inquiry, but the case remains unsolved.
Detectives suspect Charlene may have been a victim of organised sexual exploitation in Blackpool.
It was revealed that at least 60 schoolgirls were groomed for sex by takeaway workers, who would ply youngsters with food, alcohol and cigarettes in return for sexual favours.
MISSING: Charlene may have been put in kebabs, cops fear