Lancashire

Charlene Downes murder: Police offer £100k reward

Charlene Downes Image copyright PA
Image caption Charlene's mother Karen Downes said her daughter had "missed out on everything"

A £100,000 reward has been offered in the investigation of the murder of a 14-year-old girl, who went missing in Blackpool over a decade ago.

Charlene Downes disappeared near the town's North Pier on 1 November 2003.

Police believe she was one of a number of girls who were groomed for sex. Her body has never been found.

The reward was revealed on the BBC's Crimewatch programme. Det Supt Andy Webster said police were "determined to establish what happened to Charlene".

He said the appeal was directed at two specific groups - Charlene's then friends and those who knew what had happened.

'Such a waste'

"Charlene's friends, obviously just teenagers at the time, will now be grown up and may have their own children," he said.

"As parents themselves, I would hope they come forward and tell us what they know.

"Second, I appeal directly to those who know or may have heard what happened to Charlene in 2003.

"They may have been present when she was murdered or may simply have intimate details as to how she was killed and what then happened to her body.

"For whatever reasons, they may have chosen not to speak out previously, but as we seek to lift the lid on what happened, their information is vital to take the case forward."

Charlene's mother Karen said her daughter had "missed out on everything".

"She had all her life ahead of her - it's such a waste," she said.

The reward would be paid from the Proceeds of Crime Fund, which is made up of money and assets seized from criminal activity.

In 2008, a judge ordered a man to be cleared of Charlene's murder, after "grave doubts" were raised around evidence during his second trial. The jury in his first trial failed to reach a verdict.

The following year, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said police errors in gathering evidence had contributed to the collapse of the retrial.

The IPCC investigation concluded the investigating team were guilty of a strategic and tactical failure in the management of the material and several officers were disciplined, with one being forced to resign in 2011.

The resignation order was overturned by a Police Arbitration Tribunal in 2012.

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