Man,51 held over Char­lene mur­der in 2003

Break­through in ‘ke­bab’ kill case

Midweek Sport - - FRONT PAGE - By COLIN HURST news@sun­daysport.co.uk

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.

Groomed

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

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