Shockingly dark and complex, THE MURDER OF CHARLENE DOWNES is about the unsolved 2003 case of a 14-year-old girl who never came back home.
The 3-hour-long documentary begins with a fast-paced, choppy and somewhat jumbled introduction to lure you in. You will definitely not see Blackpool the same again after discovering the dark and upsetting secrets of grooming. You will also have no idea who to trust or believe as there is a lot more to the story than first perceived, with rumours, lies and practically no evidence to support anything.
The police seemed to have latched onto two suspects, mostly due to where their location is: a kebab shop backing onto a dreadful alleyway. When the police appear unannounced at their flat, they proceeded to remove the carpet and flooring for any forensic evidence. They found none. However, their interest in these suspects doesn’t falter. Microphones are hidden in lights and sockets, picking up muffled audio. It isn’t entirely clear what is said, from ‘I killed a girl’ to ‘I killed no one’.
A witness was sacked by Muhammed Raveshi (one of the suspects) and it is possible that this was all made up out of spite. The police could’ve quite easily been looking in the entirely wrong direction the whole time.
Meanwhile, many other girls were suffering from the same thing Charlene did, and I will warn you that it will no doubt be distressing to hear of such traumatic experiences in detail.
It is a fragile topic that is spoken in a darker way as you go through the episodes, the first being a ‘lighter’ watch focusing on the night Charlene disappeared.
Of course, you feel deep sympathy for the Downes family. You see them in tears listening back to tapes and taking themselves back to 1stNovember 2003. They will clearly always be in deep pain. But this documentary does put another spin on things, about the men welcomed into their house with vulnerable young girls in, about Charlene’s dad becoming abusive after drinks at the pub, about Charlene’s mum reporting her missing 2 days after she was last seen.
It is to be watched with lots of concentration. It certainly isn’t one to be on in the background. I was fully engaged yet became confused several times about the involvements and twists at every corner. The police were particularly ‘sketchy’ with the immense pressure to come up with results and conclusion with practically nothing to go on. They resorted to knocking on doors and asking young girls to lie. There were CDs containing evidence to defend the two suspects. These were hidden and denied of ever existing until they were relentlessly chased up.
You quickly realise that the poor girl had no one to protect her. Not her family, not the police, not any friends.
Overall, it’s a heavy and emotionally challenging documentary. You feel completely unsatisfied at the end that it remains unsolved. No body, no evidence, no justice. Watch with caution and a very open mind.
- You can catch up on My5.