Charlene Downes’ parents were hosting a convicted paedophile the day the 14-year-old disappeared – and her mother waited TWO days to call the police, documentary reveals
- Investigative journalist Joe Cusack revealed Karen lied to him about day of call
- Bob Downes would invite strangers from the pub to come back to his home
- One of this men was convicted sex offender Ray Monroe, Charlene sat on his lap
- Charlene reported incident with Munro to social services on day she vanished
- The third part of the Charlene Downes Murder airs on Channel 5 tonight at 9pm
The disappearance of Charlene Downes, who is believed to have been murdered, has been chronicled in a hard-hitting three part documentary, which tonight focuses on the schoolgirl’s troubled home life.
The Murder of Charlene Downes looks into circumstances surrounding the disappearance of 14-year-old Charlene Downes in November 2003 in Blackpool who it’s believed fell victim to a child sex-trafficking ring operating in Blackpool.
Tonight’s final episode reveals how men were spending time at the family home at the invitation of Charlene’s father Bob Downes, who met them in the local pub, including convicted sex offender, called Ray Munro.
Ray Munro had pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual abuse of ten-year-old children, and he was staying with the Downes family the day Charlene disappeared.
Charlene herself had reported some of her father’s acquaintances to social services for sexually inappropriate behaviour.
Meanwhile, it’s revealed that her mother Karen didn’t call the police until two days after her teenage daughter disappeared.
Karen and Robert Downes (pictured) have been looking for their daughter Charlene who went missing from Blackpool in 2003. Tonight’s episode of a three-part documentary about her disappearance focuses on the schoolgirl’s troubled home life
Charlene Downes, pictured at 14, went missing in November 2003 and is presumed dead. The investigation into her death is still ongoing
According to several sources, a number of men had been going in and out of the Downes’ family home at the time of Charlene’s disappearance.
The men came to the house on the invitation of Robert Downes, who would befriend them at the pub, but the father of Charlene denies any wrong doing.
‘I heard this story too many times from people who seem to care about what happened to Charlene,’ says journalist Julie Bindel, ‘that there was a lot of violence going on in the household, and not just from outsiders, that Bob brought in from the pub.’
Charlene’s mother Karen claims she was told to wait 24 hours to report her daughter ‘s disappearance when she first called the police. But in an audio recording dated two days after the disappearance, she can be heard saying ‘I knew I should have called sooner’
One of the men Robert brought to the family home was a convicted sex offender, called Ray Munro.
‘I saw Charlene sitting on Munro’s lap once,’ says a friend of Bob Downes, named Glen. ‘I just didn’t think it was right for a young girl like that sitting on his lap,’
‘I thought “that not right” because she’s just a fourteen-year-old kid,’ he adds, ‘I just had a word with him.’
When prompted to say how Munro reacted, Glen says: ‘He knows I’d have killed him on the spot.’
Discussing the events in the documentary, Robert and Karen both deny knowing Munro was a sex offender at the time he stayed at their house.
A picture of Charlene as a baby. A reporter said several people who cared about Charlene told her that she was subjected to violence in her home
Robert says he learned about the sexual abuse in court three days later when he went to the sentencing of Ray Munro.
‘I didn’t know at the time, otherwise I would have never have had him in the house,’ Karen says.
Social service reports there was an incident between Charlene and Munro on the day she disappeared, but the documentary does not go into details.
The documentary also revealed that eight days after her disappearance was reported, authorities decided that, if found, Charlene would not be returning home, but would be put under a police protection order instead.
The police investigation into Charlene Downes’ murder
Charlene Downes, 14, had been a victim of child sex gangs in Blackpool, many of them centred on takeaway restaurants.
Police believe she was sexually abused by as many as 100 men in the run-up to her death.
In 2007 two business partners were tried for murdering Charlene and disposing of her body using a mincing machine, before putting it into kebabs.
However, a jury failed to reach a verdict and the case collapsed. Iyad Albattikhi and Mohammed Reveshi later received six-figure compensation sums for false imprisonment.
In 2013, to mark the tenth anniversary of Charlene’s disappearance, police announced they had appointed a dedicated full-time senior investigating officer to the case.
In 2016 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 finally released on the 13th anniversary of her disappearance in November 2016 and again for a fresh appeal on the BBC’s Crimewatch Live Roadshow.
Last year, a 51-year-old man was arrested after being first quizzed by police in the year she went missing. Over the years, police have made five arrests on suspicion of Charlene’s murder but all have been freed without charge.
Karen and Bob Downes appeared on The Jeremy Kyle Show to speak about Charlene last year (pictured). They said her disappearance destroyed their family
Charlene’s older sister Rebecca says in the documentary that at 14, she had a boyfriend in his fifties and would rather stay in his bedroom flat than at home with her parents, but refuses to explain why.
The documentary also reveals that Charlene’s mother Karen waited two days to report that something was wrong.
Her 999 call recording is played and she can be heard saying: ‘My daughter’s been missing since Saturday night.’
At first, Karen insists that she placed the call on Sunday after being told to wait 24 hours.
But it’s revealed shortly after she actually placed the call on Monday, two days after last seeing Charlene.
The 999 call made by mother Karen, pictured, is heard at the beginning of the documentary, but it is revealed she placed it two days later than she initially claimed
‘How come you’ve not reported her until now when she’s only 14,’ the phone operator asks.
‘I knew I should gave reported it sooner,’ Karen says apologetically in the recording.
‘We left it to see if she might have come back you see, but obviously she’s not.
The mother insists she called prior to the recording played in the documentary.
Joe Cusack, an investigative journalist who’s been following the case since day one says in the documentary: ‘Karen Downes always insisted to me that she called the police when she first realised Charlene Downes hadn’t come home on Saturday night.’
‘But we now know for a fact that she didn’t call the police until Monday. Is this because she didn’t want the police coming round to her house asking questions, with Ray Munro, a known sex offender awaiting sentence sitting on the couch next to her?’ he adds.
The last part of the Charlene Downes Murder airs tonight at 9pm on Channel 5.
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