Lancashire

Charlene Downes: Man released in 2003 missing girl murder probe

Charlene Downes Image copyright Lancashire Police
Image caption Charlene Downes disappeared on 1 November 2003

A man arrested on suspicion of murdering a Blackpool teenager who has been missing for nearly 14 years has been released.

Charlene Downes, 14, was last seen on 1 November 2003. Her body has never been found.

A 51-year-old man from Preston, who was arrested on Tuesday, has been released while inquiries continue, police said.

A £100,000 reward remains on offer for information leading to a conviction.

Charlene, who attended St George's School, was last seen on Talbot Road, after she had been with a friend at the seaside town's North Pier.

A man was cleared of Charlene's murder in 2008 after "grave doubts" were raised about evidence during his second trial. The jury in his first trial had failed to reach a verdict.

Image copyright Lancashire Police
Image caption Charlene Downes (far right) was seen with her sister in central Blackpool on the day she went missing

In 2009 the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said police evidence-gathering errors contributed to the retrial's collapse.

The IPCC found strategic and tactical failure in the management of the material and several officers were disciplined.

Charlene's mother Karen said her daughter was a "typical teenager" who loved the boy band Westlife and was "bubbly, cheeky... and always happy".

Last month, Ms Downes said she was going to take legal action against the police who she accused of mishandling the case.

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