Charlene Downes And Paige Chivers: Finally Lancashire Police Take Action
WHAT did happen to Charlene Downes, the Blackpool teenager let down by police who weren’t bothered by rebellious, working-class teenage girls?
The Times says she was murdered. But there’s no body.
Charlene Downes was 14 when she was murdered in Blackpool and her body turned into kebabs. So they say. There is no proof of this. There is no proof that the teenager is dead.
Andrew Norfolk reports:
A new police inquiry is to be launched into the unsolved murder of a 14-year-old girl who vanished from a seaside town where dozens of men were using her for sex. The move, to be announced today on the tenth anniversary of Charlene Downes’s disappearance in Blackpool, comes as The Times reveals evidence of the horrific scale of the sexual crimes to which social workers and police believe the child fell victim.
Others have gone missing in the Lancashire resort, failed by police incompetence and lies. Paige Chivers is also missing. The girls’ parents wants the police used. The man wrongly accused of murdering her does, too.
Her mother said:
“I could not understand why the police did not put out information about Charlene on TV, and why only the local paper was interested in her disappearance,” said Downes. “I often wonder, if she had been from a posh family, and was having piano lessons, would they have tried harder to find her?”
Photo: The mother of Charlene Downes talks to members of the English Defence League during an EDL demonstration in Blackburn, Lancashire. Picture date: Saturday April 2, 2011
Andrew Norfolk has been pounding a seedy beat:
Inquiries by this newspaper have established that so many adults were thought to have been having sex with the girl [Charlene] that police initially drew up a list of 100 “people of interest”. New information also exposes the falsity of claims by far-Right groups that she was abused solely by Muslims. The case was adopted by the British National Party after it emerged that Charlene, whose body has never been found, was among dozens of Blackpool girls lured to a cluster of Asian food outlets where sex was swapped for food and alcohol.
True enough. Not all abusers are Asian.
Her parents, Robert and Karen Downes, have joined the BNP in blaming “Muslim paedophile gangs” for their daughter’s exploitation. Mrs Downes, 48, an “avid fan” of the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, used a social media site to suggest in 2011 that all Muslims should be burnt “with petrol and explosives”. She has said that her “beautiful, clever” daughter was 13 when she “started going off the rails” after coming into contact with Asian takeaway staff.
Norfolk has damning claims:
The documents contain evidence from child protection professionals that Charlene was exposed to sex offenders almost from birth and that a succession of older white men, most of them invited into the family home by her father, were known or suspected to have abused her. They included:
• A 40-year-old friend of Mr Downes who admitted paying Charlene to perform a sex act on him.
• A man in his 60s, a “good friend” of Mr and Mrs Downes, who was found in the family home lying on a bed with Charlene, then aged 12 and wearing a “skimpy nightie”. The child scooped pound coins off the bed while the man pulled up his zip and fastened his belt.
• A 34-year-old man, living with the Downes family while on bail for sexual offences, who within a week of Charlene’s disappearance was jailed for indecent assaults against three girls aged under 10.
If true, Charlene Downes lived a horrible, brutal life.
Mr Downes, 52, told The Times that he did not realise, at the time, that any of the men he befriended was a paedophile. One of them did “terrible things to kids” but seemed “a genuine guy”. His wife this week described the adult found lying on a bed with her daughter as “a harmless old man”.
The couple insisted that they would never have knowingly exposed Charlene to a risk of sexual abuse. Mr Downes said that after her disappearance he was questioned by the police for 16 hours because “they believed I had something to do with it”, but “they let me go”.
His wife said she would continue to “fight against grooming gangs with the BNP”, claiming that Islam was “a vile religion of hate” but that she did not hate all Muslims.
So. Is she dead, the child used by adults?
Lancashire Constabulary said that after conducting a series of reviews it was launching a new murder inquiry into both the Downes case and that of 15-year-old Paige Chivers, another Blackpool sex-grooming victim, who vanished in 2007 and has never been found.
Charlene’s mother, Karen Downes, says:
“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. 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.”
It’s an interesting family:
A young man struggling to come to terms with the tragic loss of his sister has been jailed over an attack with an iron bar. Robert Downes, whose teenage sister Charlene vanished aged 14 without trace almost 10 years ago, landed himself back in trouble for throwing the weapon outside the home of his former partner, hitting a woman.
His lawyer told Preston Crown Court how his problems all flowed from his inability to cope with the tragedy concerning his sister…
Today his mum Karen who now faces the 10th anniversary of Charlene’s disappearance without another of her children, spoke of her heartbreak.
She said: “I do not condone violence especially against women but not against anyone. Robert should not have done it. He is very sorry for what he has done.
“His head is all screwed up over what happened to his sister. He was 12 at the time and it is like he never had a normal teenage life. I am not making excuses because what he did was wrong, but I can fully understand why he was so angry.
“It is going to be terrible for the family when Charlene’s anniversary comes up. It will be like I have lost two children.”
The mother of a missing schoolgirl was attacked by another one of her daughters, a court was told. Karen Downes, mother of missing Charlene, was punched, slapped and spat at by daughter Rebecca Downes.
The court heard Rebecca lost her temper because she thought her mother was deceiving her father and seeing someone else… Rebecca, 26, of Healey Street, Blackpool, pleaded guilty to assault.
Such are the facts…