Schoolgirl Charlene, 14, of Blackpool, went missing in November 2003
The 51-year-old man was quizzed by police after schoolgirl Charlene, 14, of Blackpool, went missing in November 2003.
Charlene, 14, was last seen in Blackpool on November 1, 2003
New CCTV of Blackpool teen Charlene Downes who disappeared in 2003
No trace of her has ever been found but detectives believe her body was chopped up and had “gone into kebabs” at a takeaway in the town.
Lancashire Police announced a breakthrough in the cold case after a man, 51, who lived in Blackpool at the time of Charlene’s disappearance was arrested this week on suspicion of her murder.
Police today confirmed the man was interviewed over three days, following his arrest on Tuesday.
Last month her family reportedly revealed they are to sue police over the investigation.
Years after her disappearance it was revealed that Charlene was one of a number of schoolgirls who had been groomed for sex
CCTV footage released last month shows Charlene with her sister Rebecca in Blackpool the day she disappeared
Charlene’s mum Karen is said to be taking legal action after detectives appealed for witnesses with “new” CCTV footage that had been sitting in their archives for more than a decade.
The investigation has been dogged by problems ever since. A 2007 murder trial collapsed because of police errors and the IPCC watchdog ruled the force’s blunders meant the killer may never be found.
Last year a cold case team revisited the investigation and discovered CCTV footage of Charlene walking with her sister Rebecca on the day she vanished.
It was released on the 13th anniversary of her disappearance in November and again for a fresh appeal on the BBC’s Crimewatch Live Roadshow last month.
Karen says if it had been shown closer to the time she vanished it could have led to vital evidence from witnesses.
She told the Daily Mirror: “It is unbelievable that they have had that footage all those years and never used it.
“It is an absolute disgrace and an insult to the memory of my dead daughter.
“Maybe if the CCTV was shown at the time I could have got justice years ago and put Charlene to rest but now my pain continues.
Charlene's dad Robert and mum Karen say cops missed vital chances to find out what happened to their daughter
November 1 2003
3:35pm: Charlene caught on CCTV crossing the road in Blackpool
7:15pm: Charlene’s mum Karen Downes gave her a kiss after bumping into Charlene in the Blackpool town centre. Charlene told her she was going to the arcade and wouldn’t be late home. She meets her friend from the bus and they walk towards the Promenade, heading for the Carousel bar on North Pier
9:03pm: Charlene is allegedly spotted on CCTV outside a Blackpool bar on Talbot Road with a woman wearing a ¾ length black coat
November 2 2003
Charlene’s family report her as missing when she fails to come home.
2006: Police advise Charlene’s family that she has been murdered and that the case is no longer a missing persons enquiry
2007: Takeaway owner Iyad Albatthiki acquitted of murdering Charlene after trial which claimed her body was chopped up and had “gone into kebabs”. His co-defendant Mohammed Reveshi was acquitted of helping to dispose of her body
2008: Albattikhi and Reveshi were set to be re-trialled but it’s called off due to lack of evidence amid failings in the police investigation. The men were paid almost £250,000 each in compensation
2011: Officers investigating Charlene’s appearance discover at least 60 schoolgirls were groomed for sex at takeaways in Blackpool in exchange for food, alcohol and cigarettes. They believe Charlene was involved
2014: A Crimewatch appeal is issued and cops reveal a £100,000 reward for information
June 27 2016: Police investigating Charlene’s murder arrest two men on suspicion of historic sex offences
“I am absolutely disgusted. Every day is still a living hell. And instead of helping me the police add to it as they never tell me anything and seem determined to keep me in the dark.”
A £100,000 reward has been offered for information on what happened to Charlene.
Officers from Lancashire Police have taken more than 4,800 witness statements and followed 10,500 lines of inquiry but the case remains unsolved.
Detectives suspect Charlene may have been a victim of sexual exploitation in Blackpool.
It was revealed that at least 60 schoolgirls were groomed for sex by takeaway workers, who would ply youngsters with food, alcohol and cigarettes in return for sexual favours.