Charlene case appeal hits club big screen

Charlene Downes
Charlene Downes
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Detectives investigating the murder of missing Blackpool schoolgirl Charlene Downes today told of their hope that a big screen appeal to help catch her killer will provide a vital breakthrough.

Officers probing the 14-year-old’s murder turned to the football club for help publicising a £100,000 reward being offered for information that helps them solve the case.

A message was shown before kick off and again at half time at the club’s game against Brighton on Saturday afternoon.

Det Supt Andy Webster, who is leading the investigation, said: “We are determined to establish exactly what happened to her and to identify who is responsible for her murder and who has assisted in disposing of her body.

“We are immensely grateful to Blackpool Football Club for their support and recognise this is yet another example of their work with our local communities.

“By featuring our appeal inside Blackpool FC’s matchday programme and on their big screen, we hope to reach people who could potentially assist us.”

Det Supt Webster added: “We appreciate that a considerable amount of time has passed since Charlene went missing, but we would still encourage anyone with information at all to come forward and speak to us as it could assist in our enquiries, and help bring the killer or killers to justice.”

Karen Downes, Charlene’s mum, said she hopes something positive will come from the appeal.

She said: “At least they are doing something – they are working on it and that’s all I can ask for.

“Maybe someone there knows something. I can only hope something good comes of it.”

Charlene, who lived in central Blackpool. has not been seen since November 1, 2003.

Police believe she was a victim of sexual abuse before she was murdered. Her body was never found.

In December, police released CCTV footage of a woman and a teenage girl on Talbot Road in Blackpool around 9pm the night Charlene disappeared.

Detectives believe this could be the last image of Charlene alive. The £100,000 reward for information – put up by Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner – was also announced on BBC’s Crimewatch programme.

Ahead of the game Mr Grunshaw said: “Someone out there knows something about what happened to Charlene on Saturday, November 1 2003.

“Her family deserve answers, and I am supporting detectives in any way I can to help solve this terrible crime.”

In 2007, two men were charged in connection with Charlene’s murder. A jury failed to reach a verdict and a retrial was ordered.

Before the retrial took place, the case was thrown out following concerns over the evidence and both men were acquitted.

A dedicated email address has been set up for members of the public to contact detectives working on the case at charlenedownesinvestigation@lancashire.pnn.police.uk Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 quoting log number LC-20141127-0218.