Church service for missing Charlene

Charlene Downes
Charlene Downes
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The family of a schoolgirl missing for almost 10 years are to honour her memory with a church service and day of action next month.

Charlene Downes has not been seen since her mother kissed her goodbye at a bus stop in Church Street as she set off to meet friends in November 2003 at the age of 14.

A huge police operation was launched and one Blackpool businessman was charged with murdering the teenager and another with disposing of her body after she went missing.

But the jury failed to reach a verdict in 2007 and a re-trial collapsed when prosecutors withdrew the charges and the judge ordered not guilty verdicts be returned on both defendants. Now the family are planning a service at St John the Evangelist in Church Street on November 1 at 1.30pm where 10 white doves will be released afterwards.

Charlene’s mother Karen said today: “There isn’t a day goes by without me thinking of Charlene.

“I wish she was here more than anything.

“I don’t want all this fuss, I don’t want to have this memorial I just wish it had never happened, I just want Charlene.

“The past 10 years have been terrible, awful for us all.

“Awful things have happened, it has almost torn the whole family apart.

“I just live day-to-day and have to keep going for the sake of my children and my grandchildren.

“I have pictures of Charlene up on the wall and we will never forget her, she’s always in my heart. Many times I have wished she would just come walking back through the door but I suppose that will never happen.

“So what we want is justice. We want the police to get the people responsible, we want them tried and jailed.

“After all that has happened, we just want some justice for Charlene.

“We will be holding this church service and it is open to anyone to come along.

“We will be releasing 10 white doves. They are a symbol of peace and love and the spirit rising up to heaven which is fitting for Charlene.

“All the family will be there. We have relatives coming up from Coventry and from all over the country. We want as many people to come along as possible for Charlene.”

She added that the right-wing BNP will be supporting the family later in the day with demonstration somewhere in the resort.

Its party members have held days of action to raise awareness of Charlene’s case for several years now.

Its chairman Nick Griffin has been supporting the family by calling for a resolution to the case and last year appeared in the resort.

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