Date: 1 Nov 2003
Place: Blackpool, Lancashire
Charlene Downes was last seen in the early hours of 1 November 2003 at the junction of Abingdon Street and the back of Clifton Street.
A man was tried twice for her murder in 2008, but the jury were unable to reach a verdict in the first trial and in the second trial grave doubts were raised over the evidence. It was said that failures in police surveillance techniques resulted in the collapse of the trial that had heard that Charlene Downes had been raped by a kebab shop owner who was then alleged to have murdered her and put her remains in with the kebabs he was selling. The man and another man were said to have been heard talking about having sex with white girls and having joked that Charlene Downes had gone into the kebabs. The judge said that a witness in the case could no longer be considered reliable and the second trial collapsed. The other man that had been on trial with the kebab shop owner was charged woth assisting an offender after it was alleged that he had helped to dispose of Charlene Downes's body but he was also acquitted.
At the trial, it was said that the kebab shop owner had been having regular kinky sex with Charlene Downes in an alleyway.
The alleyway was behind the Funny Boyz fast food restaurant and was known as Paki Alley.
Charlene Downes had gone to St George's School in Blackpool but had been expelled and was last seen on Talbot Road in CCTV footage after having gone to North Pier. She was last seen after having gone to the Carousel bar in North Pier with some friends.
At the 2008 trial it was heard that Charlene Downes had started hanging out near the takeaways in order to have sex with older men who worked in them in an alleyway.
Later, in 2016, two men were arrested for historical sex offences committed in the early 2000s relating to two other girls aged 14 or 15 at the time. One of the men was arrested on suspicion of indecent assault and taking indecent images of a child whilst the other man was arrested on suspicion of rape, buggery, indecent assault and possession of indecent images of a child. Two men were later convicted in 2017 for offences not directly linked to the disappearance of Charlene Downes. One of the men was a head waiter in an Indian restaurant in Blackpool. He was sentenced to six and a half years for two indecency offences with a 14-year-old girl in 2003 and 2004. The other man was convicted for sexually abusing two teenage girls then aged 15, between 2001 and 2003 in Blackpool and was sentenced to five years and four months. Both of the men were identified during the investigation into the disappearance of Charlene Downes but were not supposed to have been involved with it.
In 2017 another man was arrested in relation to her murder but released pending investigations.
Charlene Downes was described as white with blue eyes, was 5ft 1in tall, slim, and had straight shoulder-length brown hair. When she was last seen she was wearing a black jumper with white diamonds, black jeans with gold eagles on the front and black boots.