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Murder trial of Charlene Downes continues

A schoolgirl was murdered by a fast food shop owner who joked that she had been "chopped up" and had gone into the kebabs, a court has been hearing.

Charlene Downes, 14, was killed by Iyad Albattikhi, 29, owner of Funny Boyz fast food shop in Blackpool, who it is alleged had sex with the youngster he described as "kinky", Preston Crown Court was told.

After kissing her mother goodbye she went off on her own - and vanished off the face of the earth, Mr Holroyde said.

A missing persons inquiry began but police later launched a murder investigation after information "leaked out" that the girl had been "killed and chopped up", the court heard. No trace of Charlene's body has ever been found.

Mr Holroyde told the jury a witness heard Albattikhi and others talking about Charlene.

"These people were talking about sex with white girls, and there was mention of having sex with Charlene."

Albattikhi and Reveshi were joint owners of the fast food shop on Dickson Road in Blackpool, the court heard, which the younger man ran on a daily basis.

Charlene became a "familiar figure" hanging around the shops where she would sometimes get free food.

"In addition," Mr Holroyde said, "she was one of a number of adolescent white girls who sometimes went at night to the alleyway behind the restaurants which they called by the unflattering name, Paki Alley. "She and others went there to meet much older men from the restaurants, and it seems perfectly clear that there was at times some sexual activity."

Albattikhi took advantage of one of those vulnerable girls - Charlene Downes, the jury was told. The trial continues.

Whilst investigating Charlene’s murder police in Blackpool discovered that there were widespread problems with older men grooming young girls to become involved in sexual activity, such activity taking place around amusement arcades and fast food takeaways. As a result of this discovery, police and social services in the area launched a multi-agency task force to tackle the problem of childhood sexual exploitation in the Blackpool area., This was called the Awaken Project and is still going strong today. It is now considered one of the leading lights in the area of detection and prevention of child sexual exploitation.

Sexual exploitation is still a major problem in Blackpool and other areas despite the emergence of projects like the Awaken Project. Such exploitation can cause long term damage to the young people involved. With proper help and support the trauma sustained can be lessened.

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