Lancashire

Charlene Downes murder: Appeal to Blackpool football fans

Charlene Downes Image copyright PA
Image caption Charlene Downes went missing on 1 November 2003

Blackpool football fans are being asked to help solve the murder of a teenager who disappeared over a decade ago.

A £100,000 reward is on offer for information leading to the conviction of the killers of 14-year-old Charlene Downes or the recovery of her body.

An appeal will be made on the big screen and inside programmes during the team's match against Brighton at Bloomfield Road on Saturday.

Charlene disappeared near Blackpool's North Pier on 1 November 2003.

Police believe she was one of a number of girls who were groomed for sex.

Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: "Someone out there knows something about what happened to Charlene.

"Detectives believe the answer lies in Blackpool - and it could lie at Bloomfield Road on Saturday."

Police criticised

Det Supt Andy Webster said: "We have never given up our search for information about Charlene, who we believe was murdered more than a decade ago.

"We appreciate that a considerable amount of time has passed since Charlene went missing, but we would still encourage anyone with information at all to come forward and speak to us."

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 was 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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