New heartbreak for family of 14-year-old girl ‘murdered and served as kebabs in Blackpool’: Charlene Downes’ brother Robert collapses and dies aged just 30 with their mother saying ‘it’s all just too much, I’ll never be the same again’
The brother of a missing schoolgirl said to have been cut up, served as kebab meat and crushed into tile grouting has been found dead ‘in a pool of blood’ just days before Kersfees.
The body of Robert Downes, 30, was discovered at the family home in Blackpool, Lancashire, op Desember 4 just a few hours after complaining of feeling unwell.
Die tragedie kom 18 years after Charlene Downes, 14, vanished without a trace from the seaside resort, sparking one of the biggest police investigations in history.
Police believe Charlene was murdered by men who had been sexually abusing her but her body has never been found.
Two local takeaway workers stood trial for the teen’s murder in May 2007 when prosecutors claimed Charlene’s body had been cut up and minced into kebabs and her bones crushed into tile grouting.
But charges were dropped when a jury were unable to reach a verdict.
Robert’s distraught mother Karen, 56, said she will not celebrate Christmas Day after the latest tragedy, adding that she’ll ‘never be the same again’.
The body of Robert Downes, 30, was discovered at the family home in Blackpool, Lancashire, op Desember 4 just a few hours after complaining of feeling unwell
Die tragedie kom 18 years after Charlene Downes, 14, vanished without a trace from the seaside resort, sparking one of the biggest police investigations in history
Sy het gese: 'Ek is hartseer. Naya Rivera word deur eksman vereer... I still think he’s going to walk up and knock on the door.
‘Losing him as well as Charlene is just too much – I know it’s been 18 jare, but it doesn’t get better. I’ll never be the same again.
‘Robert was the baby of the family, and my only boy. I already know what it’s like to lose a child and it’s not something you can ever get over.
‘I’m sitting here bursting into tears every day. I’ve still got the last t-shirt he wore.
‘There are no Christmas decorations in our house. There’ll be no Christmas Day for us. It’s absolutely devastated me.’
Robert, a father-of-four, spent the night of December 3 with the mother of his children, Enya Cardwell.
He returned home the following morning and set off with his dad, Robert Sr, to Blackpool FC’s Bloomfield Road stadium where he worked as a steward.
Shortly after arriving there, egter, Robert complained of feeling ill and left.
He returned home at 6.30pm, and fell asleep a short time later in an upstairs bedroom – the last time he was seen alive.
At around 11.30pm, Robert Sr returned home and went upstairs to check on his son, and found him unresponsive on his bedroom floor surrounded by blood.
Paramedics were called to the house, and Robert was pronounced dead at the scene. Daar word nie geglo dat sy dood verdag is nie.
Karen said: ‘I only saw him that morning and he was fit and well. They said ‘sorry, he’s gone’. I just screamed.
‘He was perfectly fine that morning, and just a few hours later he was dead on the floor.
‘The worst part was seeing them taking him away in that bag. It’s unreal. Hy was net 30. I can’t wrap my head around it – it was so sudden.’
Post-mortem results came back inconclusive, meaning his family must now wait for an inquest to determine the cause.
His death comes as a crushing blow for his family, 18 years after 14-year-old Charlene disappeared on November 1, 2003.
Police believe Charlene was murdered by men who had been sexually abusing her but her body has never been found
She was last seen by Karen at 7.15pm that day, when she kissed her goodbye at a bus stop on Church Street on her way to meet friends in the town centre.
Police believe she was murdered within hours of her last sighting, with suspicions arising that she had been a victim of child sex abuse at the hands of one or more men.
The disappearance of Charlene hit the family hard and Robert was taken into care as Karen became unable to cope.
There he struggled in school, and was excluded for hitting another pupil who taunted him over rumours that his sister had been murdered and cooked into kebabs.
He later fell into drug abuse, and was jailed for attacking Karen in 2019.
But she says he had drastically improved since leaving prison in August 2020, and was looking forward to spending the new year with his children.
Karen het bygevoeg: ‘I was wishing it was me. I still do. I’m older, I’ve lived my life, but he hadn’t. He never had a chance.
‘He never really got over his sister; he was only 12 toe sy vermis geraak het, and he lost his teenage years.
‘I’m not making excuses for him, but it affected everybody because we got no justice.
‘He wanted to find the people who did it and know where she was, and he never got that.
‘Robert was gorgeous, he was outrageous, he was funny and he was loud.
‘When he came out of prison in August last year he had put weight on, he was looking so well, he was going to the gym. He was a changed man from when he went in.
‘He wasn’t an angel, he had his flaws, I’m not going to give him a shining halo. But he was my boy and we loved him.’
Robert’s funeral, attended by his family and friends, will take place at Carleton Crematorium on January 10.