A tragic Blackpool mother whose daughter went missing 10 years ago was assaulted by a wannabe lover – after he moved from New Zealand to start a relationship with her.
Mark Bailey, 27, became besotted with Karen Downes after chatting to her on a website dedicated to her daughter, Charlene, who disappeared in 2003 when she was 14.
A court was told how the tale had touched Bailey’s heart and he began to have long conversations with Mrs Downes, 48, of George Street, Blackpool.
The pair’s romance went on for a year until he saved up enough money to travel to Blackpool.
He met with the married mum and declared his love for her, asking her to leave the family home and live with him instead.
Blackpool Magistrates’ Court heard the restaurant worker, who lives in guesthouses across the resort, pleaded “be with me and nobody else”, but Mrs Downes declined.
He then got hold of her hair which was in a bun and pulled her towards him during a confrontation on Cookson Street, Blackpool, earlier this month.
Speaking after the case, she told The Gazette: “I was terrified and screaming, telling him to get off me because he wanted to talk to me in an alleyway.
“He could have had a knife or anything and was threatening me. He showed an interest in the site and in me, and it snowballed from there.
“When he told me he was coming here I didn’t think he would follow it through, but he did and I was very surprised.
“He wanted me to forget about my family and control me but that was never going to happen because I have children.”
Gary McAnulty, defending, said his client considered himself to have been in a proper relationship with Mrs Downes and moved from New Zealand to allow it to flourish.
The lawyer added: “It was slightly bizarre because Mrs Downes is married and lives with her husband.
“After being warned by police he arranged to meet her to discuss matters and said he loved her.
“I have had to explain to him she wants nothing more to do with him. It is a sad end.”
Bailey pleaded guilty to assaulting Mrs Downes and was fined £75 and told to pay £20 victims surcharge.
He was also put on a restraining order for six months.