Blackpool Murders

The lonely death of Abigail Whalley. Robins Lane, Carleton 1931.

The murder of Abigail Whalley is an unsolved crime.


The Bungalow in Robins Lane

Many people will know Robins Lane because it is close to Carleton Crematorium.  Traditional Christianity was hostile to cremation because it made physical resurrection difficult.  As late as the nineteenth century William Gladstone kept a finger he had accidentally shot off to  facilitate his resurrection.

I am dwelling on cremation because its history involves  my favourite topics… eccentrics and druids.  You don’t really get any more eccentric than Doctor William Price… Welsh Nationalist, Socialist,  and druid.  When his wife gave birth to a son William Price, aged 83, provocatively named him Iesu Grist.  The boy died and William Price, in keeping with his druidic beliefs donned his druidic robes and burned the lad in his back garden.  He was arrested but burning a dead child does not break any law, probably because when they made laws they never thought anybody would do it.  So we owe Carlton Crematorium to the activities of William Price  the most lovably loopy person who has walked the earth. Possibly.  Druids still meet fortnightly in Blackpool and the Ancient Order of Druids has a long  connection with Blackpool.  At the opening of North Pier in 1863  a Bard on a Donkey appeared with sixty members of the Order of Druids .

Used by kind permission of Rhondda Cynon Taff Libraries

Used by kind permission of Rhondda Cynon Taff Libraries

William Price in Druidic outfit.  The greatest Welsh Person?

There were three reasons to be cremated:  it was hygienic and progressive, it was a denial of traditional christianity (the Catholic Church did not accept cremation until 1983) and it had a classical status to  people brought up on Roman and Greek Traditions.

Abigail Whalley had been a teacher in Manchester.  Her sister had died a few years previously and her family was prosperous and distinguished but she had no close relatives.  She had twice been married and widowed and had her bungalow, Auburn, built at Carleton.  She was eighty-five years old.  She gave generously to charities.  She had a reputation for eccentricity and miserliness.

She seems to have been lonely.  And cantankerous.   Her cleaner had left and her bungalow was neglected.  She wore old fashioned clothes.  She was heard to say that she had so much money that she did not know what to do with it.  These words are relevant to her fate.  Aged 85 she would walk from Blackpool to Carlton to save the bus-fare.  She was seen dragging a large piece of oilcloth home.   People were  discreet  but we have the impression of somebody going quietly out of their mind in Carlton.

On  Monday  May 11 her neighbours noticed she had not lit her fire or opened the blinds.  At the bungalow she was found in her bedroom with a fatal head wound.  A strong box had blood on it.  Nobody knows what was taken.  Possibly money from the strongbox and  jewellery.  The only thing  definitely missing was an old-fashioned silver watch.

The Police launched an enquiry.

The investigators  must have felt confident.   Abigail Whalley’s home was specifically  targeted .  This means the robber/killer must have had personal knowledge of her.  Since there was no car involved the murderer most walked to the bungalow.

The bungalow had no lighting, gas or electric, so the crime was  likely to have been committed at first light. This seems especially the case since many of the neighbours kept dogs but no dog had barked.  It comes as a shock to realise that a bungalow in Carleton in 1931 did not have gas or electricity.  Carleton was a rural village.  The most likely escape route for a fugitive was across the fields to Bispham or North Shore.  You can still walk from Kincraig Road to Robins Lane along the newly developed Blackpool North Ponds Trail.

The killing most likely happened early on  Monday 11 May.

It looked as if a local man had committed the crime.

But nothing turned up.  A set of clothes were found in a public  toilet but it turned out that a man had given a tramp a set of clothes and he had put them on and left his old clothes behind.  There was suspicion about a lavender seller, this was 1931 and the Depression was at its height.  The lavender seller was found and cleared.

Finally the Police were searching for a red haired man who was known in Preston and Liverpool and had a scar above his eye.  We do not know why he was a suspect .  My guess is that he was somebody known to the Police who had been seen in Blackpool.  But it is unlikely that a stranger would have had the knowledge to commit this crime.

The Police looked out for the stolen watch but it never appeared.  The Police did not find a murder weapon.   It may have been a chisel since this could have been used to break into the bungalow and to break into Mrs Whalley’s bedroom which was locked.

A man breaking into a bedroom must be aware that there is somebody inside.     Was he from Blackpool and had he heard about this rich widow?  Since Abigail Whalley’s bungalow was targeted amongst other homes  he must have known the rumours that she was rich and known where she lived.  The most likely explanation is that somebody told him.  And that person did not tell the Police. .  The investigators  must have questioned all known burglars living in Blackpool.  Maybe they questioned  the killer.

Time for irresponsible guessing.  The killer lived in Blackpool, was aged between 20 and 40, may have had a job or worked some hours (because of the need to be at work on Monday morning) may have acted in collusions with somebody else who gave him information. If the killer acted on his own he was unlikely to be married.

On the other hand he may not have been working (and the need for money would be a motive) and he may have come across the information accidentally.  He may  have met Mrs Whalley and spoken to her.  It is certain that the reconnoitred the bungalow before the crime.

Why did he kill her?  Dawn is breaking and he has come into the bungalow.  Mrs Whalley’s room is locked.  He breaks open the door.  In dawn light Mrs Whalley is much more active then he has expected and he is afraid she will scream so he hits her with the chisel.  He opens the chest.  There is nothing much there.  He goes home across the fields.

And then what?

Unsolved  murders are fascinating because there is an untold story.  Maybe he never committed another crime.  Maybe he went on to become a pillar of society.  Maybe he became Mayor or Chief Constable. He had skills which would serve him well: he was persistent, he was determined and he was discreet.

M aybe he learnt his lesson and stuck to minor crime.  Maybe he regretted it every day of his life.  Or he never thought about it again.  He probably lived in Blackpool and died in the later years of the twentieth century.  If you have lived in Blackpool from the seventies you probably passed him in the street.

The  enquiry failed because there was no evidence at all to follow and the dispirited investigators  had no option but to withdraw from the case.

But the murderer got away with it and Mrs Whalley is buried in Poulton Old Cemetery.

After the murder Mrs Abigail Whalley’s bungalow became a tourist attraction and visitors took all the flowers from her garden and the bolder ones sneaked up to the bedroom window of her bungalow to gaze at the spot where the crime happened.  Extra passengers made the bus-route to Carleton more profitable.  Somebody stole the street sign.

In 1936 the Evening Gazette reported that a Layton Taxi Driver, Harry Hodge, reported picking up a lady at Blackpool North Railway Station and driving her to Robins Lane.  As she was alighting he saw an old man with a Punch-like face, sunken eyes, long dark hair and a prominent chin.  The woman passenger screamed and ran off.  The man disappeared.

The association of the Crematorium, which had opened in 1935,the loneliness and isolation of the spot  and memories of sinister events may have triggered Harry Hodge’s experience.  There is something other-worldly  about Robins Lane.  Basically it is a track joining farms: a survival from a forgotten past.


This is the entrance to Carleton Crematorium where Harry Hodge saw a ghost.  Robins Lane is to the right.


Thanks to Juliette Gregson’s

“Blackpool’s top ten ghosts”

The events are covered in the Blackpool Evening Gazette.

Blackpool: City of dreadful night. The disappearance of Charlene Downes and Paige Chivers


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.


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.

I have written elsewhere in “From smuggling at the Foxhall to Rent Boys at the Imperial” that  under-age rent boys are alleged to have been taken to  drink and drug fuelled party past the noses of the Police at the Conservative Conference  to  the Imperial.  These boys were not hard to find.
1 November 2003
Charlene had spent time with her sister Rebecca in Coral Island and then in MacDonalds.  At 6.45 pm the girls met their mother in Church Street. Rebecca went home.    Charlene rang her friends who came to meet her.
Charlene was fourteen years old.  She told her mother that she was going to the arcades on the Central Promenade.  She kissed her mother goodbye.   She was seen in Abingdon Street and in “Paki Alley” behind Clifton Street at the back of a number of takeaways where a group of local girls met takeaway workers.  The girls were given food, drink, drugs, cigarettes and sexual activity took place.
At 9.00 pm Charlene went with a friend to the Carousel Bar on North Pier.  They left at 10.00 pm and at 11.00 they parted.
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 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.
(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 had a propaganda success with the Justice for Charlene campaign.  “BNP Television” fronted by a man of really  jaw-dropping creepiness (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.
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.
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.
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.
 _82784623_98377919                               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.
“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.


Paige Chivers

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.

missing poster

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.


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?


poster from bnp

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.walker

Adam Walker

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

Gareth Dewhurst

Robert Ewing: guilty of murdering Paige Chivers.

Bob Ewing

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.


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.


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.


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 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 long to see justice done for Charlene and  her family  because Charlene is part of us and her fate is something we share.