Was Charlene, 14, sexually abused by up to 100 men before being murdered and chopped up for kebab meat? Police reopen case of missing teenager ten years on
- Charlene Downes, 14, disappeared in Blackpool ten years ago today
- She had been abused by up to 100 men before her death, police believe
- Paige Chivers, 15, vanished in August 2007 and was also groomed for sex
- Police relaunch inquiry and urge the public for information about them
PUBLISHED: 10:23, 1 November 2013 |DailyMail
A murdered schoolgirl who vanished ten years ago was sexually abused by as many as 100 men in the run-up to her death, it emerged yesterday.
Charlene Downes, 14, had been a victim of child sex gangs in Blackpool, many of them centred on takeaway restaurants.
Yesterday it was claimed that her parents turned a blind eye to the some of the abuse which is alleged to have taken place in the family home.
New probe: Police have relaunched investigations into the murders of Charlene Downes (left) and Paige Chivers (right) in Blackpool in the past ten years
In 2007 two business partners were tried for murdering Charlene and disposing of her body using a mincing machine, before putting it into kebabs.
However, a jury failed to reach a verdict and a retrial collapsed. Iyad Albattikhi and Mohammed Reveshi later received six-figure compensation sums for false imprisonment.
To mark the tenth anniversary of Charlene’s disappearance, police yesterday announced they have appointed a dedicated full-time senior investigating officer to the case.
The team will also look into the disappearance of another teenager from Blackpool, Paige Chivers, 15, who vanished in August 2007.
Charlene’s parents are not co-operating with the police inquiry and will today take part in a BNP march, having shared platforms with leader Nick Griffin accusing ‘Muslim paedophile gangs’ of targeting their daughter.
However, it emerged that police drew up a list of 100 ‘people of interest’, suspected of abusing Charlene, including a succession of older white men invited into the family home by her parents, The Times reported.
Yesterday, Charlene’s mother Karen told the Daily Mail the allegations were ‘exaggerated and widely untrue’.
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Rhodes said Lancashire Constabulary had never given up the search for either girl, but hoped the fresh investigation would jog people’s memories.
Renewed appeals: The two teenagers vanished without a trace but may have been murdered by a paedophile
Cold case: This kebab shop was at the heart of Charlene’s case. Its then owner was falsely accused of killing her and chopping her up. He and another man were paid compensation after the case against them collapsed. It is believed to be under new ownership and changes its name
‘There is nothing evidentially that links these cases at present although we would never rule it out but as with Charlene, I would also ask people to remember Paige and, again, let us know if there’s anything they have been keeping to themselves about what happened to her,’ he said.
‘We know that people are more confident in coming forward to report historic information nowadays and this may be the case here.
‘Charlene and Paige’s friends, obviously just teenagers at the time they went missing, will now be grown up and may have their own children. I would hope they may be more confident now in coming forward and telling us what they may know.
He added: ‘We appreciate that a considerable amount of time has passed since both Charlene and Paige went missing but we would still encourage anyone with information to come forward and speak to us as it could assist in our inquiries, and help bring the killer or killers to justice.’
Lancashire police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw said he had seen many cases where information years later resulted in successful prosecutions.
Mr Grunshaw specifically mentioned the case of former BBC presenter Stuart Hall, who was jailed for child sexual abuse against 14 girls between 1967 and 1985.
‘I hope, in the cases of both Charlene and Paige, there is someone out there who now feels comfortable enough to come forward and tell the police what they know,’ he said.
‘Charlene and Paige’s families have a right to know what happened to their children, and I would urge anyone who thinks they might know something – no matter how small – to take this opportunity and contact the police.’
Prosecutors in the 2007 trial of takeaway owner Iyad Albattikhi, accused and later acquitted of Charlene’s death, claimed her body was chopped up and had ‘gone into kebabs’.
The court heard Charlene was one of a number of young white girls who gravitated to Blackpool’s takeaways to have sex with older men.
Mr Albattikhi was formally cleared of Charlene’s murder while co-defendant Mohammed Reveshi was acquitted of helping to dispose of her body.
Both of the accused were later reported to have received six-figure compensation sums for false imprisonment.
Paige had also been linked to sex exploitation in the area.
Over the years, police have made four arrests on suspicion of Paige’s murder but all have been freed without charge.