Charlene mother attacked by web stalker

Karen Downes
Karen Downes
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A mother who set up a website for her daughter who is believed to have been murdered has been attacked in a car park by an internet stalker.

Mark Bailey travelled half-way round the world from New Zealand to declare his love for Karen Downes but he lost his temper when Mrs Downes, mother of Charlene who vanished 10 years ago, refused to leave her husband and family for him.

Bailey, a 27-year-old restaurant worker, who said he lived in guesthouses around Blackpool, pleaded guilty to assaulting 48-year-old Mrs Downes.

He was bailed for pre-sentence reports and will be sentenced at a later date by Blackpool magistrates.

Tracy Yates, prosecuting, said a man heard a woman on East Topping Street car park screaming “stop hitting me” on March 20 at 11.30pm.

The man saw Bailey grab Mrs Downes by the hair. She kept trying to get away, but he kept dragging her back.

The witness flagged down a passing police patrol and officers chased and restrained Bailey on the ground after he tried to flee.

Gary McAnulty, defending, said Bailey had started up a friendship with Mrs Downes over a website she set-up about her daughter.

He then saved up, travelled to England and declared his love for her.

Mr McAnulty added: “Mrs Downes says there is not a relationship between her and Bailey.

She is still married and living with her husband.

“Bailey is waiting for a time she will leave her husband and live with him.

He is frustrated as it is 12 months since he came here.”

Despite Lancashire Police’s biggest ever missing persons inquiry Charlene has never been found.