I love Blackpool because of its faults. When a thirty four year old woman felt amorously inclined to a gentleman she saw in in newsagents in North Shore they consummated their relationship on the bonnet of a red Peugeot in Hyde Street within minutes. Interrupted by the police the man ran off and the lady appeared in court. We were impressed. We’re friendly. We don’t stand on ceremony. Nobody likes us, we don’t care. Blackpool people never let you down: they always behave worse . Every day we read in the “Gazette” that a man has stolen twenty-eight packets of bacon from the Tesco Express in Central Drive. Part of us relishes this lawlessness… .When I go on holiday say to Cambridge something is not right. I can’t put my finger on it and then it comes to me. There are no teenage mothers pushing prams. Nobody is smoking. There are no overweight people attempting to eat their own mass in sausage rolls. Nobody is shouting at anybody. Nobody is running down the road clutching packets of bacon chased by security guards. It is boring. You don’t have to go as far as Cambridge. You can go to Lytham. You soon notice the irritating lack of betting shops, tattooes, smoking, very large people, Cash Converters, McDonalds. What do they do there? In charity shops in Lytham they have second hand jackets that cost more than my entire wardrobe. You could keep a Blackpool family in skunk for a month for the cost of that jacket. They live ten years longer in Lytham than in Bloomfield but I bet it feels like twenty. Blackpool is street theatre, you are in a 3D full size version of a cross between Beckett and the Jeremy Kyle Show. People come here to get drunk and take drugs. The sex industry is a bigger employer than rock-making. You are never more than ten minutes away from a drug dealer or a prostitute. Legal highs and new drugs feed into a nightclub culture. People coming home from nightclubs pass people going to work. Low paid work or jobs in the black economy are easier to find than in some towns and the availability of housing encourages people who have trouble in their home towns. Blackpool is a destination of choice for people on the run. You can come to Blackpool with £150.00 and a bin-liner full of clothes and find a flat. . Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow you die. Or you die because you eat drink and be merry. There is a dark side to this carnival. People die rather a lot in Blackpool. Bloomfield Ward has the lowest life expectancy in the United Kingdom.. Crime levels are the eighth highest in the UK and the highest outside London. Addiction and smoking account for many of the deaths. A young person in Blackpool is eight times more likely to commit suicide than the national average. Lives are lived in sadness and despair.
I am walking along Central Drive and an Indian woman in a sari is nearly run over by a cyclist on the pavement: “You Paki Bitch.” He shouts. In Blackpool there are problems. And there are people who have been failed by every institution. The very poorest most chaotic people are the ones who are in competition with immigrants for housing and jobs. Poverty equals crime, despair, drink and drugs.
BLACKPOOL: THE TRIBES
Grayson Perry says that British Society consists of tribes. Addicts socialise with addicts, prostitutes socialise with prostitutes, vicars socialise with vicars. We have a view about the world which is really the view of ourselves and people like us. If you walk round Blackpool on a busy day you will walk past paedophiles, murderers, addicts, drug dealers. You will walk past children who are being abused. A family were recently arrested for keeping their son in a locked shed in the garden. You will pass children who do not eat regularly. If you have walked through Blackpool in the past few years it is likely that you will have passed Charlene Downes and Paige Chivers and their relatives and the men convicted for Paige’s murder and the men charged with Charlene’s murder.
Tribes have many functions, they make themselves feel good by disparaging other tribes, they provide company and mutual support, they enhance personal identity, they are a forum to discuss problems involving the tribe. Attribution of blame is one function. When a member of the BNP bombed a gay pub in London the Leader of the BNP Nick Griffin said that he found the conduct of the mourners distasteful. Let me go over that again. A BNP member bombs a gay pub and the leader of the BNP found the conduct of the mourners distasteful.
It isn’t all dark in Blackpool, I know a man who used to be a postmen who goes to Uganda on a tiny pension to provide education. When he is in Blackpool he helps provide food for homeless people. A hairdresser cuts their hair if they want. Week after week this man cuts hair for homeless people.
So I love Blackpool but there are things so dark they cling. Darkest of these dark things is the fate of Charlene Downes and Paige Chivers. If there is a redemptive side… well stop right there… there isn’t. It is said that suffering makes you a better person but I think it makes you a worse person. I do not think that Charlene and Paige were different to anybody except that they were poor. Bruce Springsteen sang in Atlantic City:
“Down here it’s just winners and losers
And you don’t want to get caught on the wrong side of that line.” .
Blackpool may be the paedophile capital of Britain. A convicted paedophile would find life difficult in Burnley or Rochdale. Paedophiles or suspected paedophiles are attacked and killed in England. Possibly one or two percent of the male population are true paedophiles: they are aroused primarily or only by children. Many of them realise that this is wrong and need help. There is no treatment available for non-offending paedophiles. The demonisation of paedophiles has made it nearly impossible for non-offending paedophiles to seek help even though this reduces the offending rate. The concensus is that paedophilia is not a choice or a preference and that it is already established at birth. Convicted paedophiles come to Blackpool because they can find housing and safety in the anonymous crowd. It is likely that they are less closely supervised. After Charlene Downes’ disappearance it was found that about 60 young girls as young as eleven hung around “honey pots”, the take-aways around the town centre and Dickson Road where they could be offered drugs and alcohol in return for sex. These take-aways are staffed by Asians. “Asian” is a broad-term: Jesus was an Asian.
That is the last confirmed sighting of Charlene.
There is the glimpse caught on CCTV. Is this the last picture of Charlene Downes
Is it Charlene? Thirty three seconds of a girl with a taller older blonde woman in a long coat turning off Talbot Road into Dickson Road at Ma Kellys.
The investigation was difficult because Charlene had a number of contacts. In all 60 men. A number of sex offenders visited or stayed at her home. At the time of her disappearance there was a sex-offender lodger awaiting trial. He and another visitor admitted a sexual act with Charlene. When she was nine she had accused a family friend who took her to school of raping her. The case collapsed but it was as a result of this and an investigation by the Social Services that Charlene and her family moved from the West Midlands to Blackpool. At the age of twelve a council worker saw scantily dressed Charlene picking up money from the bed and an older man dressing hastily. Charlene was excluded from St Georges School but she about to be readmitted.
The Downes family were close and loving. Charlene was cheeky. Why were the Downes family so accomodating to sex criminals? Possibly money was involved. Charlene was especially close to her sister Rebecca and had close relationship with her mother and father. By the standards of chaotic households, by the standards of the sixty girls who frequented takeaways, Charlene came for a stable and loving home. Charlene may well have been a happy girl.
Because of the number of contacts the investigation was time-consuming. There were two lines of enquiry… Charlene’s white contacts and the immigrant workers who entertained local girls in take-aways. We get a glimpse of tensions in the investigation when a report was “leaked” which revealed that sixty local girls as young as eleven were being “groomed” in Asian-owned take-aways. The implication was that the investigation was being hampered by “political correctness.” The other possibility is that a focus on take-aways distracted investigators into a wild goose chase.
A local businessman David Cassidy told the investigators that Iyad Albattikhi’s brother Tareq had fallen out with Iyad and told him that Iyad had confessed to the murder. Astonishingly the investigators had David Cassidy tape conversations with no instruction regarding leading questions. David Cassidy had a history of dishonesty, he owed Iyad money and he was considering taking part in a business which would be a rival to Funny Boyz which Iyad managed.
The investigators regarded this as a breakthrough. Perhaps they were clutching at straws. They concentrated their resources on Iyad Albattikhi, a Jordanian, and his business partner Mohammed Raveshi. A number of conversations were taped using concealed microphones and as a result of these tapes Iyad and Mohammed were charged and tried.
There is no point in avoiding the fact that most people found Iyad Albattikhi, 28, annoying. He managed Funny Boyz named after Funny Girls, the club where customers are entertained by transvestite singers and dancers. He flirted and gave away food to girls with short skirts. After he was tried and acquitted for Charlene’s murder he was investigated five times for rape, although never charged. He got in trouble for fondling a girl’s buttocks in a bar. He assaulted his former girlfriend. He came over to the investigators as arrogant, sexually agressive and just annoying. When he was under investigation he did not modify his behaviour. The investigators expected Asians to be compliant and Iyad was not .
As Iyad pointed out the five allegations of rape came about after he had been acquitted for Paige’s murder. Is it really possible to have five accusations of rape and none of them substantiated? Were the Police after Iyad because they believed him guilty, or they just found him annoying. The politics of the Police are difficult to read.
Not a nice man . But a murderer? There is no evidence. And there are many people in Blackpool who are not nice men. Only some of them are murderers.
The BNP in a program for “BNP Television” referred to the accused as “two Moslem gentleman” but knowing what we do of Iyad I think it implausible that he put in much time at the Mosque. He plied girls with drink and drugs. The problem was that he wasn’t Moslem enough.
Mohammed Raveshi, 55, was Iyad’s business partner and later accused of helping him dispose of the Charlene’s body. He had been a sergeant in the Iranian Army and surprisingly was a foster parent and had a good reputation for dealing with difficult children.
The evidence consisted of tapes of tapes mainly of conversations between Iyad and Mohammed. The quality was very poor and linguistic experts and translators disagreed with the interpretation put on the tapes by the Prosecution. The most striking piece of the tapes seemed to have the accused saying that Charlene had “gone into the kebabs.” This was the line that the Prosecution took.
It seems to me that this was a way of referring to Charlene’s disappearance.
The Jury could not agree and a retrial was planned. At this point the Crown Prosecution Service withdrew the case because there were “grave doubts” about the quality of the evidence. The Downes family were devastated. The investigators had probably briefed the family that they had no doubt that Iyad and Mohammed were responsible. Later the BNP were to say that Iyad and Mohammed were released on a technicality. The technicality being lack of evidence. The thing that seemed to especially annoy the BNP is that Iyad and Mohammed were awarded £250000 each for wrongful arrest.
There were many flaws in the Prosecution case. There is no evidence that Iyad or Mohammed knew Charlene, there are not witnesses the Charlene was at Funny Boyz and the prosecution’s claim that Charlene was put into kebabs is implausible. The Police at the time and the BNP believed that they had the culprits and that the problem was the quality of the evidence. The BNP also claimed that the jury had been intimidated or bribed but they have not produced evidence.
Evidence is Kryptonite to the BNP.
ENTER THE BNP AND THE EDL
(The English Defence League and the British National Party are two far-right organisations. They are best known for street demonstrations.)
Nick Griffin the leader of the BNP thought he had a propaganda gift. The BNP were trying to present themselves as a “normal party.” Their slogan was “people like you.” Nick Griffin was a decisive swing towards “normal” from the synagogue bombing gay Nazi clique (really) that had led the party. And the BNP had some electoral success in northern towns and in elections for European Parliament. I risk being ostracised but I have a soft spot for Nick. He had a challenge on his hands. The BNP has many strands. One strand is the Nazi Right. Why a dandruffy flatulent man with halitosis called Hitler who had a gift for epic failure should capture the imagination of such notables as Ian Brady is difficult to say. Maybe it is charisma, maybe it is the imagery and propaganda of the Nazis or maybe they find in him a symbol of narcissistic nihilism. Some people in the BNP are unreserved in their admiration for the man with the odd moustache. Another faction of the BNP have a deep interest in guns and bombs. The BNP has a good number of paedophiles and sex-criminals amongst its supporters.
Another problem for Nick was that his party has an extraordinary number of eccentrics and rivals plotting to seize power. This involves endless reptilian plotting and counter plotting. Then there is the sleaziness involving finances. The BNP’s undisputed talent is its ability to shoot itself in the foot. Every time they make headway in the middle ground one of their members will leave a bomb in a gay pub or something and they have to start over again. On top of these problems a body of BNP supporters don’t want the Party elected. They enjoy street violence and intimidation not sitting in council meetings discussing dog-fouling.
In my pursuit of what an ordinary BNP member was like I took a look at a BNP Website, it was based in Yorkshire, and it was enormously entertaining. A member complained that he went to a BNP meeting and there was a Chinese person there. Another went on a BNP trip to Amsterdam and the organiser got drunk and led them to a brothel and was so drunk in the morning that he kept a coachload of activists waiting for an hour. Another complained about a prospective candidate being a “Naziboy.” A pop-up appeared advertising an Islamic Singles website.
At this stage the still to be overthrown leader Nick Griffin was campaigning about the “Islamification” of Britain. So here was a case that linked Islam, the murder of a white child, and the grooming of white children by immigrants and cannibalism. There were demonstrations outside Funny Boyz.
The EDL were involved in the early demonstrations. Then somebody (surely somebody in the Police ) “leaked” a file to the EDL which had background material about Charlene. Whether it was this or the fact that the BNP seemed to have monopolised Karen Downes’ attention or an unfortunate incident where Robert Downes Junior threatened door staff with the EDL their ardour for the Charlene Downes case cooled.
THE BNP TAKE OVER
The BNP had a propaganda success with the Justice for Charlene campaign. “BNP Television” fronted by a man of really jaw-dropping creepiness http://bnptv.org.uk/2012/02/breaking-news-robert-downes/
(I am biassed see for yourself) promoted demonstrations in Blackpool outside Funny Boyz. Much was made of the fact that the Crown Prosecution Service representative was a Muslim, Nazir Afzal . The BNP did offer support to the Downes family in a way that no other organisation did. Their “Justice for Charlene” campaign was completely about re-opening the case against Albattiki and Raveshi. The BNP had a story that involved Islam, the murder of a white girl, paedophile Asians and cannibalism. The BNP played the kebab card heavily.
BIT OF A DIVERSION HERE
The story of a Christian child being killed and partly eaten by Jews is the foundation myth for pogroms against the Jews throughout the Middle Ages. It was claimed that a child Hugh of Lincoln was killed by the Jews and parts of his body eaten in a Jewish ritual, his body miraculously discovered when he sang despite being dead. He was made a Saint by the Pope and Chaucer tells his story. Then he was unmade a Saint by another Pope. This story crops up again and again. There is still a martyred Christian child in the Russian Orthodox Church. This is the pre-cursor to the Jewish Conspiracy which influenced the Nazis.
WAS CHARLENE PUT INTO KEBABS?
It is impossible to say that something could definitely not happen because we are all here as a result of an infinite number of impossible things. With that reservation Charlene was not put into kebabs. To butcher any creature requires a skilled butcher, specialist, tools, a lot of space and of time. An experienced butcher would find a human being difficult. When a creature is butchered a quarter cannot be used and has to be disposed of. It is said that human flesh has a distinctive taste.
If you put those together is unlikely that Charlene was put into kebabs.
BACK TO THE BNP
Observant readers may have noticed that I haven’t much time for the BNP. I do not agree with Socialists who say that racists should not be given a platform. This strikes me as self-righteous bullying and a kind of pointless bossiness which is sadly a feature of left wing politics. The BNP is not an intellectually rigorous organisation and should not be taken too seriously. The BNP did offer comfort to the Downes family . The BNP had quite a following in Blackpool and their propaganda was well put together. If you have a campaign called “Justice for Charlene” it is difficult to dissent. I believe in justice for Charlene.
The BNP arranged a memorial for Charlene in 2008. Whether you regard it as moving or ludicrous depends on your point of view. To me it is both.
The sympathetic view first. The BNP had kept the case in the public eye through their demonstrations. They had offered support to the Downes family. They had challenged the conduct of the Police and the judiciary. They arranged a ceremony at the Crematorium. The ceremony did express an outpouring of grief and it must have brought comfort to the family.
The “Reverend” Robert West. The BNP’s Religious Consultant.
The contrary vision is that the “Order of Service”, as the BNP curiously called it conducted by the Reverend Robert West was embarassing. The Reverend Robert West has never been ordained. He was a supply teacher who lost his job when he explained to his pupils that Moslems worshipped the Devil.
He took to dressing as a vicar. I cannot find it in my heart to be too hard on the Reverend West because he combines two organisations with stratospheric levels of loopiness: the Church of England and the BNP. National treasure ?
The BNP literature about the event demonstrates a vertigenous dive from coherence into drivel, well really it would have to improve a lot to merit the term “drivel.” It seems the problem is not just “Moslems” but also Zionists, Freemasons and Traitors. You will see that Nick Griffin had a task on his hands when he set out to “normalise” the Party. The literature also makes a connection between Charlene Downes and Paige Chivers.
KAREN DOWNES AND THE DOWNES FAMILY
“They distrote things” from Karen Downes’ Facebook
I admire Karen Downes. If I had kissed my daughter goodbye and never seen her again I don’t know in what state I would be. Karen is a fighter. She fizzles with energy. She has consistently brought Charlene’s case to public attention. She has not given in, as I would, to despair.
There are times when you want to beg her to shut up. Somebody should tell her that you don’t always have to put everything you think on Facebook.
Most people have inappropriate thoughts. And they realise that they have crossed a line. That is not Karen’s way. Karen announces them on Facebook. Take the “minging ugly baby.” Karen posted a picture of a baby with its mother. It was a happy delightful picture. And she put: “What a minging ugly baby.” It will come as no surprise that the baby is a black baby in Africa. Not a Moslem, or an immigrant. Adolf Hitler would not have done this on the grounds of good taste. It is so beyond the boundaries that it becomes comical.
If I had lost my daughter I might be so consumed by hatred and loathing that I would hate any portrayal of happiness.
Karen’s lack of self-censorship resulted in other infelicities. At one point she proposed an event to finance a memorial for Charlene that would include male-strippers and sex toys. The EDL were shocked.
She encourages violence against anybody she takes a dislike to.
Her beliefs leave no room for evidence. An example: after the trial when the jury could not agree at the trial of Iyad and Mohammed Robert Downes Junior went out and got drunk. I would have done the same. The doormen at Ma Kellys would not let him in. So he threatened them with the EDL. The next day he was bruised. He said he had been attacked by doormen from Ma Kellys. Karen Downes said that the doormen worked for Iyad Alkabatti. The BNP said that Robert had been attacked by; “friends of Moslems. ” Somebody replied on social media that this had not happened and that the doormen’s version, that Robert was drunk and abusive and had been turned away peacefully, was confirmed by CCTV. Karen’s reply was those doormen: “they distrote things.”
Karen’s closeness to the BNP and conviction that Iyad and Mohammed were responsible may involve a desire to connect the murder with “outsiders.”
Karen is what Karen is: a fireball, an explosion of venom, a tireless campaigner, a fury.
We may be aghast but we have not suffered as she and her family have suffered.
Charlene’s family continued to be convinced that Iyad and Mohammed were responsible for Charlene’s murder. Karen stabbed her husband Robert who forgave her. Robert Junior and Emma got in trouble over tensions with Iyad and Mohammed who continued to live in the area. In an unexpected turn of events a New Zealander turned up and announced that he was in love with Karen. Karen had a court order to prevent him harassing her. Karen’s daughter Rebecca assaulted her mother. Karen announced that she was going to put it all behind her and go off with the New Zealander. Her BNP comrades may have pointed out that he was an immigrant. Then she fell out with the New Zaealander and threatened him with violence.
There is clearly a strong bond between Karen and Robert and the family, may they find peace.
After the collapse of the trial Detective Sergeant Jan Besant who had many hours transcribing the tapes of Iyad and Mohammed was told to resign. She did so and then she claimed successfully that she had been wrongly dismissed.
The Service for Charlene and the Justice for Charlene campaign were the high-water mark for the BNP. Nick Griffin had a lot to be pleased about. There were two BNP MEPs and a number of BNP councillors especially in the North West and in Dagenham. An MP once called Mrs Thatcher “Dagenham.” When asked to explain he said it was two stops beyond Barking. The Party had support in Blackpool and the Justice for Charlene campaign was a popular success . Many shops displayed the poster not realising that it was connected to the BNP.
What could possibly go wrong?
Amongst the BNP supporters who helped with leaflets and demonstations were Bob Ewing and Gareth Dewhurst.
A Crimewatch report on the 4 December 2014 retraced the last hours of Charlene Downes. Karen and Rebecca Downes spoke with dignity and sorrow. I felt a sense of Charlene as she was, a happy girl who was killed. It is still available on BBC I-player.
A reward of £100000 was offered. It may be that friends of Charlene who would not talk to investigators at the time will now come forward.
Justice for Charlene is possible.
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF PAIGE CHIVERS
This is Paige Chivers.
And this is Paige Chivers aged fifteen on a poster printed when she was still believed to be missing.
The older Paige looks troubled. Something has happened. In that beautiful face there is wariness, mistrust. We project interpretations. Blackpool is a small town and my friend talked to Paige at a bus-stop a couple of weeks before she disappeared. She says that Paige was a bit scary, wanted to show her scars on her neck.
Paige Chivers had much to be troubled about. She was excluded from school. She was drinking and taking drugs mainly amphetamines, she was promiscuous. Her mother had died. Her father was a drinker, a heroin user, and he blamed Paige for her mother’s death. Paige’s father Frank was violent, he hit Paige for taking drugs, somewhat ignoring the fact that he took drugs himself. She went to the same take-aways as Charlene Downes. Bereavement, drug problems, friction with her father, exclusion from school. Paige was an isolated and troubled child.
There were stable elements in Paige Chivers’ life. She had a close friend Tiffany Bell. They would take drugs and chat. And there was Bob Ewing. A kindly uncle he let the girls use his flat and drink and take drugs and talk about their lives.
23 August 2007 Paige packed her belongings into two carrier-bags. Her father Frank had told her on the phone that he would kill her after money was missing from Frank’s wallet. You will recall that Frank was a heroin user, probably an addict. Frank had lost his wife, blamed Paige and Frank had addiction and drink problems. He was, like many people in Blackpool, occasionally getting in trouble for offences involving drink, drugs and violence.
Paige was seen at a bus-stop with an older man. The following day she was seen at Bob Ewing’s flat at tea-time. And then nothing.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BNP AND THE EDL
The BNP were quick to link the cases of Charlene Downes and Paige Chivers. I am unable to resist a leaflet that was handed on on Dickson Road. Crazy it also has an unsettling beauty. Naive art?
We last saw the BNP in a moment of triumph. The BNP had two Euro-MPs. True to BNP tradition one of them resigned and formed a faction aimed at getting rid of Nick Griffin. Nick Griffin resigned and was replaced by Adam Walker pending an election.
The English Defence League had been led by Tommy Robinson. He was imprisoned for fraud involving mortgages.
More pragmatic followers moved to UKIP. The votes and membership of the Far Right evaporated. Those who remained were the kind of supporter that Nick Griffin wanted to eliminate. A Far Right circus: ideologically driven, bitter, angry and few. The increasing loopiness of the rump BNP found voice in criticisms of Nick Griffin: that he was tolerant, liberal and a Zionist. Nick Griffin had been upstaged by UKIP.
Nick Griffin had a following in Blackpool and he visited the town probably hoping to launch a new leadership bid. The BNP’s moment was past. Nick Griffin had taken the party to the verge of a breakthrough, then it had rejected him. Given events he may wish that he had never heard of Blackpool.
Paige often went missing for days and it was days before Frank reported her missing to the Police. The Police switchboard made a mistake and reported Paige’s date of birth as 1962.
This error delayed a search. Paige’s disappearance was reported three days after she was missing and the error was not corrected until twelve days later. It took time to realise that this was not an ordinary runaway teenager. There were no sightings and no evidence of activity. Paige Chivers did not claim an inheritance left to her by her mother. There was no evidence that Paige was working or claiming benefits or using the health service. By February 2012 the search was a murder enquiry. The last sighting of Paige was at Bob Ewing’s flat at tea time on the day after she left home. The day before she had been seen with an older man at a bus-stop.
The Police had reason to be suspicious of Bob Ewing. He had been imprisoned for a year in 1995 for gross indecency involving a thirteen year old. He had almost certainly been questioned in regard to the disappearance of Charlene Downes. He was the person last seen with Paige Chivers. It is likely that the hesitancy of investigators regarding Bob Ewing is connected to nervousness following the acquittal of Iyad and Mohammed.
If Paige had been killed where was the body? The investigators probably never doubted Robert Ewing’s involvement. They noted his close relationship with Gareth Dewhurst. Gareth Dewhurst and Robert Ewing had met through their involvement in the BNP in Blackpool. They had helped in the BNP’s campaign by handing out leaflets. In the small world of Blackpool BNP they almost certainly met Charlene’s mother and father. They described themselves as “Neo-Nazis.” A friend of mine met Gareth years ago at a drinking session. He shouted: “Sluts” through the window of the Ladies Toilets and ran off. He was called “Rusty” because of his red hair. He is very often described as “weird.”
They were questioned without success. The investigators planted microphones in Bob Ewing’s home. At this time Bob and Gareth were aware of the techniques used in the Charlene Downes’ case and they referred to the possibility that their conversations were taped.
Gareth and Bob tried to intimidate witnesses and to lay false trails. Bob accused a man who had recently died of being the killer and he claimed that he had been heard a “confession” on the phone.
Gareth who worked as a painter and decorator and as a handyman and as a caretaker at Blackpool and Fylde Naval College confessed to Michael Washer who was 15 or 16. Michael was the son of Gareth’s girlfriend at the time. Gareth smoked a great deal of marijuana. Eventually the son had told his mother who had told him to tell the Police. The lad did. When asked in court why he had not gone to the Police earlier he said with admirable concision: “It is not the done thing in our circles.” Michael said that Gareth repeated the story.
Frank Chivers, Paige’s father, was murdered in an unrelated incident. He was involved in argument over twenty-pounds. We recall that Paige left home in as a result of an argument over money.
The investigators and the suspects were playing cat and mouse. Both of the suspects tried to muddy the water by laying false trails, intimidating witnesses and being uncooperative. This state went on for eight years. The Police were cautious because of the failure of the case against Iyad Alkabatti and Mohammed Raveshi when the evidence obtained by microphone was inconclusive. Finally the investigators were able to charge Gareth and Bob. The evidence was totally circumstantial and the absence of a body made it difficult. There were small blood stains from Paige in the house, there was Gareth’s confession, there were tapes were the crime was mentioned and there were diary entries by Bob which refer to Paige.
In April 2015 the trial began at Preston Crown Court. Bob Ewing (60) was accused of murder and attempting to pervert the course of justice. Gareth Dewhurst (45) was accused of helping Bob Ewing conceal the body and having committed a sexual act with the body of Paige Chivers.
The last charge seems to come from a gothic fairy tale and recalls the story of Charlene being put into kebabs. It derives from Gareth’s confessions. Gareth had said that Bob Ewing had forced him to have sex with Paige’s body.
How do you go about forcing somebody to have sex with a corpse? Irrespective of whether it is true or not it demonstrates the kind of hold that Bob had over Gareth. Gareth: neo-Nazi, marijuana smoking, weird bully was not a deeply bad person. It is a happy thing for our peace of mind that Gareth was acquitted on this charge.
I will not dwell on the trial There was one piece of evidence that I found compelling.
Six days before Paige vanished Bob Ewing rang up the Police Switchboard and asked for advice about how he should deal with a fifteen year old “problem child” who turned up at his door. The conversation lasts for more than six minutes and is riveting because we see how Bob portrays himself. He is ingratiating, bumbling, perplexed, establishes rapport. He is the plain man in a puzzling world he scarcely understands. The result of the conversation is that Bob Ewing believes that if Paige turns up on his doorstep with a shopping bag full of clothes nothing much will happen.
The conversation can be heard on the Gazette website: .
So at that point six days before Paige’s disappearance Bob is considering what will happen if Paige comes to his house. I do not believe he was thinking that he would kill her. But he was prepared to kill her. This goes back to Bob’s year in prison in 1995 for “gross indecency” with a thirteen year old girl. Bob was determined he would not go to prison again.
What happened is unknown. My guess is that Paige, tough and streetwise, rebuffed Bob and said she would tell the Police. Bob’s previous conviction was not known to the Jury at the time of the trial but it does add a motive. And then Bob killed her with a hammer.
Then he rang up Gareth. And they put the body in the van and drove. Where? There’s a question. If Bob didn’t have a car the places he could look at would be limited. They may have thought of somewhere while in the van. You wouldn’t want to be seen taking a body out of a van so that would suggest night and isolation. And somewhere close by. But this is speculation for all we know they could have driven to Cornwall. Then Gareth destroyed the van.
Gareth and Bob denied the crime. They were found guilty. Bob was sentenced to thirty-three years and Gareth to eight. Gareth was acquitted of the the charge involving sex and the body of Paige Chivers.
GARETH AND BOB
Bob was the mastermind. Gareth may have been overwhelmed by Bob. If Gareth had not met Bob he might have led a blame-free life with his marijuana and his Nazi fantasies. Maybe he met somebody who transformed those fantasies into realities.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?
Bob and Gareth will probably appeal. My guess is that the appeal will fail. Then they will fall out. Bob and Gareth will blame one another. Gareth feels the burden of guilt more than Bob. Gareth’s stoned confession was an attempt to alleviate guilt. There is a possibility that Gareth will confess. It will make no difference to Bob. Even Bob may feel guilt. In an odd piece of the recorded surveillance of his home he says to himself: “You don’t mess with me. Quick hammer over the head then they will be sorry.”
Most people relive guilt and want to unburden themselves.
Suppose that Paige rebuffed Bob and threatened to go to the Police. The chances are that she wouldn’t do that anyway. But if she did what is the most serious charge? A fifteen year old girl loses her life because she is a remote possible threat. You cannot help but wonder what it is like to be Bob Ewing. It would be interesting to be Bob Ewing for a short time but it would be very unpleasant to be Bob Ewing. And is it that surprising that a Neo-Nazi lacks empathy?
Does the Paige Chivers disappearance cast any light on the Charlene Downes disappearance? Possibly. The suspects are:
Regardless of the acquittal of Iyad and Mohammed the staff of take-aways form one group of suspects. From all points of view it is puzzling that Charlene drops from view at 11.00 pm. This would be a busy time on the streets and in take-ways.
A SINGLE PAEDOPHILE
Charlene had many contacts with older white men. Because Charlene was young looking she may have appealed especially to paedophiles. And she had a number of contacts.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: BOB EWING
The BNP pointed out similarities between the disappearance of Charlene Downes and Paige Chivers. Two girls disappear. They are similar in age. They have troubled backgrounds The victims are of an age that interests Bob Ewing. And we know that he has experience socialising with girls of that age. Bob tried to confuse the Paige investigation with false leads. If Bob were guilty his work for the BNP to throw suspicion on Iyad and Mohammed could be a way of promoting a false lead. His contact with the BNP gave him insight into investigation techniques. When Bob rang up the Police Switchboard about Paige he was gathering intelligence.
When he killed Paige, Bob Ewing had a plan. The absence of a body stalled the enquiry. Could this be because he had done it before? Disappeared a body?
Consider the points that Bob has in common with the Downes family: his age is similar to that of Robert Downes. They both have military experience. They are both BNP supporters, Bob Ewing is a convicted paedophile as were many visitors to the Downes’ household.
Could there have been contact between Charlene and Bob Ewing?
The similarity may be coincidental. It is possible that Ewing learned from the disappearance of Charlene Downes, that the absence of a body makes a murder conviction difficult.
While the BNP were campaigning about: “Muslim Paedophile Killers” one of their supporters was a paedophile and would become a killer. Actually there was another paedophile: Michael Kinnear was a BNP supporter living in Fairfield Avenue, North Shore. When a thirteen year old girl went missing from her foster-home the Police asked questioned him and he denied seeing her. Six days later she was discovered at his home. He was imprisoned for 33 months and on release moved to Morecambe where at present (august 2015) he is awaiting sentencing for taking and distributing sexual images of a seven year old girl.
Are the BNP appropriate people to be campaigning against paedophiles? I emailed the BNP with this question but have not received a reply. They used to have campaign to execute paedophiles. A paedophile might think that being a member of the BNP offered camouflage… like being a Priest…
The fact that some people in the BNP are paedophiles and murderers does not mean that all people in the BNP are paedophiles. People in all major parties are paedophiles and people in the Liberal Party have allegedly taken part in a conspiracy to kill.
Consider John Rabe.
John Rabe saved 250000 Chinese people during the Japanese invasion of China by establishing Safe Zones in Nanking. After the war he was unemployed and he and his family had to search the woodlands for food. When the people in Nanking heard they sent money.
John Rabe was a Nazi. I am not defending Nazis I am saying that this world is utterly strange.
In this world anything does happen.
I have just heard that a 51 year old man has been arrested in Preston who lived in Blackpool at the time of Charlene’s disappearance. I long to see justice done for her family and because Charlene is part of us and her fate is something we share and the hope is that justice prevails.