Hotelier’s help in teen girl hunt

Owner of The Lanes Hotel on Coronation Street in Blackpool Gail Smith, who recognised a teenage runaway.
Owner of The Lanes Hotel on Coronation Street in Blackpool Gail Smith, who recognised a teenage runaway.
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A hotelier has spoken of her shock at discovering a runaway schoolgirl was stopping at her hotel.

Gail Smith, the owner of The Lanes Hotel and Guest House on Coronation Street, Blackpool helped the police reunite a 14-year-old girl with her mother after she went missing more than three days ago.

The 55-year-old, who has run the hotel for seven years, said she realised something was wrong after reading a flyer that had been left by the police. Gail said: “The PCSO popped in and asked if she could leave me a flyer. I was quite busy so I didn’t look at it straight away.

“Then I noticed the couple in the picture were guests of mine. I rung the police and told them.”

The couple had paid £17 each to stay in a standard room in the 17 bed hotel when they checked in at 11am on Thursday.

When the officer had visited the hotel they had been out and about in the resort.

Gail said: “They seemed like really sweet kids. They were very polite and respectful. They were actually the only guests I had in the hotel.

“They seemed fairly young but they said they were on a short trip to Blackpool. It’s really hard to tell some young people’s ages. This isn’t the first time I have had a young runawayin the hotel. At the end of last year I discovered a 14-year-old girl from Hull had been staying here.”

Officers arrived at the hotel around 6pm on Thursday and waited for the pair to return.

Gail said: “There were policeman everywhere. When they arrived back they looked terrified.

“They have obviously not realised how worried people were.”

Officers drove the teenager, who lives in Preston, home to her parents.

A 19-year-old man from Preston has been arrested on suspicion of child abduction and is currently in custody being questioned by officers.

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