Police have released an appeal for information about a case from 2003 that they are continuing to investigate, 17 years on.
Lancashire took to Facebook this morning (30th October 2020) to appeal to the public of Blackpool and surrounding areas, for anyone who may have information about this missing teenager Charlene Downes.
Charlene disappear 17 years ago, she was last seen on the night of Saturday 1st November 2003, only 14 years old and very vulnerable as she was a victim of abuse. On the night of her disappearance, Charlene was with a female friend, and was last seen at the top of an alleyway on Abingdon Street, Blackpool around 10.30pm.
A white male chef, who was working and living in that alleyway, recognised Charlene on the evening she disappeared, saying that he saw her there, alone. She has not been seen since.
It is presumed that Charlene was murdered, however her body has never been found. Police and detectives have vowed that they will never give up looking for Charlene and what happened to her, and plea the public to come forward with any information, however small.
Iyad Albattikhi, who ran the Funny Boyz takeaway in Blackpool not far from Charlene’s last sighting, and his landlord and business partner Mohammed Reveshi, are the only people ever to have been charged in connection with Charlene’s disappearance, which they have always denied any involvement in.
Mr Albattikhi was charged with murder and Mr Reveshi was charged with helping him dispose of her body.
Police believed that Charlene was murdered and cut up before being served as kebab meat after being lured into a gang and groomed for sex.
A jury failed to reach verdicts following the 2007 trial at Preston Crown Court and a retrial was also dropped because of a flawed investigation.
Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Webster who has been leading the case for the last 7 years said, “We have never given up trying to work out Charlene’s last movements from when she was last seen in alley off Abingdon Street. People are older now, 17 years on and we are still asking whether anyone can tell us about who Charlene used to hang about with, where she used to go, or places she would visit.
“I still believe that there are people who know more about what happened to Charlene in 2003. They might have been struggling to tell us what they have known for years. I am not naïve, I know that for some people it is never easy to talk to the Police, but they may just have something very important to tell us.”
“No matter how little you think the information you have is, please share it with us. It may be a piece of the jigsaw that we are missing; by coming forward and telling us what you know can only help us. You may hold information that is crucial to finding out what happened to Charlene.”
“So I appeal to anyone who was a visitor to the alleyway around November 2003, for whatever purpose, to contact us. This Alleyway is entered from Abingdon St and services the rear of business premises on Talbot Rd and Clifton St.”
The investigation is one of the largest and longest running in the history of Lancashire Constabulary. A reward of £100,000 remains on offer for anyone with information that leads to the prosecution of her killer or assists in the recovery of Charlene.
As the investigation continues, survivors of historical sexual abuse have been identified or have come forward which may be in connection with the long-term investigation and Lancashire Police will continue to act on any new information that comes to light.
One of Charlene’s friends, Tyne Yates, who was reportedly a victim of child grooming in Blackpool at just 12 years old, believes that she probably knows who Charlene’s killer was. In an interview she stated:
“It torments me knowing that I probably know her killers. We were doing the same things with the same people at the same time.
“When I look into the eyes of some of the men that prowl the streets preying on vulnerable young girls, I can’t help but wonder if one of them was the last face that she ever saw.”
Despite the passage of time, the police ask anyone who is a survivor of child sexual abuse to come forward and get in touch.
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