Man who fell in love with missing girl’s mother is recaptured

Blackpool Magistrates' Court
Blackpool Magistrates' Court
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A pianist who fell in love with a woman whose daughter is believed to have been murdered has been captured after going on the run for six months.

New Zealander Mark Bailey travelled half-way round the world to be with Karen Downes, the mother of Charlene Downes – the Blackpool schoolgirl who vanished 11 years ago aged 14.

Bailey first met Mrs Downes over the Internet when she was campaigning for justice for Charlene.

He moved to Blackpool to be with her, but then got upset when the 48-year-old mother, who is married with a family, refused to move in with him.

There was an argument between them during which Bailey pulled Mrs Downes hair. He then admitted assaulting her and was put on six months supervision order.

Yesterday Bailey, 27, of Banks Street, North Shore, pleaded guilty to breaching his supervision order.

He was sentenced to do 60 hours unpaid work for the community by Blackpool magistrates.

Neal Brookes, prosecuting for the Probation Service, said Bailey was sentenced to six months supervision for assault last April.

From June, Bailey started missing appointments with his probation officer and failed to keep a touch. A warrant for his arrest was issued in August last year.

Gary McAnulty, defending, said Bailey had come to Blackpool to be with Mrs Downes after meeting her via Facebook, despite the fact she was living with her husband and family.

Mr McAnulty added: “He wanted her to leave her husband and go to live with him, but she would not.”

After being put on supervision, Bailey lost his job and home, so he phoned his mother who sent him money and he returned to New Zealand.

Mr McAnulty said: “He could not settle in New Zealand. He would rather be here and with Mrs Downes, so he saved up and came back.”