THE brother of a missing Blackpool teenager has been spared a jail term after he harassed a man accused of being involved in her disappearance.
A judge told Robert Downes – whose sister Charlene disappeared nine years ago aged 14 – he was prepared to give him one last chance because of the “absolutely terrible” situation his family had found themselves in.
No trace of Charlene has ever been found, and police are treating her disappearance as murder.
Two men were charged and acquitted in connection with the St George’s High School pupil’s murder – and it is one of them Downes admitted harassing over a two-month period last year.
Downes, of George Street, central Blackpool, approached the man – who had faced a charge of helping to dispose of Charlene’s body – five times last June and July, banging on his car window and trying to get in, jumping in front of his car and chasing him and appearing outside his home address.
He also went to the victim’s business and threatened to slit one of his worker’s throats.
In a victim statement read to Preston Crown Court on Tuesday, the man said: “It is a shock to find someone just appear and be so threatening towards you. It caused me to panic.”
Downes was also sentenced for a burglary at a home on Boardman Avenue, Blackpool, in which £2,000 of property was taken in August last year.
Defending, Ben Morris said Downes’ record made for depressing reading, but said: “One can only imagine the torment that the family have had to endure.”
Handing Downes a 12-month prison term, suspended for two years and with two years supervision, Judge Anthony Russell QC said what the Downes family had gone through must have been “absolutely terrible”.
But he told him: “Although your circumstances are very tragic, the court would not look with leniency upon a breach of the order. This is very much a last chance.”