Mum’s plea to help close 13-year case

The mum of vanished Blackpool teenager Charlene Downes is holding out hope a fresh appeal may bring to light vital evidence in tracking down her daughter’s killer.

It is 13 years since Charlene went missing in Blackpool town centre.

CCTV footage of Charlene Downes in Blackpool Town centre from November 2003

CCTV footage of Charlene Downes in Blackpool Town centre from November 2003

New CCTV footage released yesterday – the anniversary of her disappearance – showed Charlene out with her sister, the two caught on camera in Bank Hey Street, close to Pricebusters and The Tower.

It was unearthed as part of a review of evidence in the case and officers are hoping the confirmed sighting of 14-year-old Charlene will help them identify her on other footage, enabling them to trace her final movements.

And Charlene’s mother, Karen Downes, still hopes to see those behind Charlene’s disappearance brought to justice.

Karen, 51, of George Street, said: “I’ve always hoped, you have to hope, you have to keep believing.

“Somebody must know something.

“Hopefully now they’ll be able to see where Charlene went in those final hours, who she was with. Who was she with when she disappeared?

“Hopefully we will get answers.

“But time is running out, we need people to come forward.”

The footage shows Charlene out for the afternoon in Blackpool with sister Rebecca.

And when it was shown to the family, it stirred an emotional response.

“It is hard to watch,” said Karen. “My daughter burst into tears. I was crying when I first saw it.

“My blood ran cold to see that. It’s her, there’s no doubt it’s her, I identified her.

“That’s how she looked the last time I saw her.

“It brought it all back.”

Karen is glad to see police bringing new evidence to light. Be she is frustrated by the time it has taken for the crucial new images to be discovered.

And she questioned why it had taken so long to uncover what could be a vital clue.

Karen said: “Why now? Why wait so long.
“I’m glad to see this appeal made. But why wasn’t it made with the first inquiry?

“Why has it taken 13 years to come to light. It is frustrating.

“Hopefully it will jog someone’s memory. Hopefully it will help us find out what happened.”

And the distraught mother had a clear message for anyone who might be holding onto information which could help close the case on her daughter’s disappearance and murder.

Karen said: “Please, if there is anybody who knows anything, speak up.

“Somebody must know and I’d say to them please don’t be afraid

“Don’t be afraid to come forward.

“We need to find out what has happened, we need to find out who has done this.

“Time might be running out but we just want to be able to have closure, the family needs that.”

The investigation into Charlene’s disappearance has been broadened to look into issues of child sexual exploitation in Blackpool.

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting log number LC-20161031- 0381 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers.org they can emailcharlenedownesinvestigation@lancashire.pnn.police.uk