Mum of missing Blackpool teen ready to sue police

Karen Downes
Image: Simon Lennon
Karen Downes Image: Simon Lennon

The mum of missing schoolgirl Charlene Downes has told Lancashire Police she intends to sue the force over their bungled investigation.

Karen Downes is taking legal action after officers released fresh CCTV footage more than a decade after Charlene disappeared, aged 14, on November 1 2003.

The footage was uncovered in November last year as part of a review of all case material carried out by a new team looking into the schoolgirl’s disappearance and murder.

Karen says it was the final straw after a series of failings by the force which included officers on the original case facing misconduct charges and a damning IPCC report into their investigation methods.

Now she is taking civil action against Lancashire Police and is seeking damages and a public apology over their handling of the investigation and the newly discovered footage.

Karen said: “It’s not about money, no amount of money is going to bring Charlene back.

“It’s the principle.

“This footage could have been part of the first investigation.

“Somebody could have come forward. It could have led to vital evidence which could have led to Charlene’s killer being brought to justice.

“That’s what I really want, it’s not just about an apology, although I’d like a formal apology, it is about justice for Charlene.”

Karen can’t believe the footage went so long without being uncovered.

She said: “It is an absolute disgrace and an insult to the memory of my dead daughter.”

In her Letter of Claim to Lancashire Police, Karen states that she is taking action under section 7(1) of the Human Rights Act for “violation of investigative duty.”

Peter Garsden, President of the Association of Child Abuse lawyers, said: “Police and authorities need to be held account for their actions. This case has had a devastating affect on the family of Charlene. It is staggering that this CCTV has only recently come to light. “

To this day, despite a long investigation, numerous media appeals and a £100,000 reward, nobody has ever been brought to justice over Charlene’s disappearance.

Two takeaway workers were acquitted of her murder in 2007. The main evidence against them consisted of a series of covert recordings which were later found to be flawed due to their handling.