'Other children are being forgotten': Mother of missing girl furious after Madeleine McCann search effort granted $190,000 more

Karen Downes criticised the decision to inject more cash into the search for Madeleine McCann and asked why other children who've gone missing don't get the same sort of treatment


                            'Other children are being forgotten': Mother of missing girl furious after Madeleine McCann search effort granted $190,000 more

53-year-old Karen Downes, the mother of 14-year-old Charlene Downes who went missing in 2003, has criticized the Home Office's decision to award more funding to the investigation looking into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

The three-year-old McCann went missing from a resort in the Algarve region of Portugal in 2007, sparking what has been called "the most heavily reported missing-person case in modern history," and the 11-year search for her has reportedly cost close to £12 million (~$15 million) after the most recent £150,000 ($190,000) injection.

The Sun reports that Downes is angry that the police have ignored other missing person cases, including that of her own daughter, and feels it's unfair the other children did not receive the same attention. "I feel very angry that other children — Charlene and so many others — are being forgotten," she said.

Charlene Downes went missing from Blackpool in 2003 (Source: missingpeople.org)
Charlene Downes went missing from Blackpool in 2003 (Source: missingpeople.org)

While the search for Madeleine continues, little is still known about the tragic disappearance of Charlene on November 1, 2003, in Blackpool. One theory claims the 14-year-old was a victim of abuse after it emerged that around 60 schoolgirls were groomed by takeaway workers in the area who would give the teens food, alcohol, and cigarettes in exchange for sexual favors. Another more disturbing one suggests her body was chopped up and cooked into kebabs, though two accused takeaway workers were eventually acquitted of the murder charges in 2007.

"A child goes missing in the UK every three minutes. What about all those others who never come home again?" Downes asked. "She didn’t even go missing in this country — it’s really a matter for the Portuguese police, and yet the money just keeps on rolling in for the search."

"There were reports that Charlene had been groomed and drawn into the sex trade which broke my heart. It was suggested in court that her body had been cut up and mixed into kebabs. It was horrific. It was during the trial that Madeleine McCann went missing and it was plastered all over the newspapers and the TV. It was a global story."

Madeleine went missing in Portugal in 2007 (Source: Handout/Getty Images)
Madeleine went missing in Portugal in 2007 (Source: Handout/Getty Images)

"I was devastated for her parents," Downes continued. "But I also wondered why Charlene’s disappearance hadn’t had the same attention. If we’d had that kind of coverage, maybe she would have been found before it was too late. I will never know. It just doesn’t seem fair on my Charlene."

One can empathize with the 53-year-old considering detectives only released CCTV footage of the last day Charlene was alive last year. They claimed the footage, which shows the 14-year-old in Blackpool with her sister, had gone "unnoticed." 

Downes has now written a book titled 'Sold in Secret' which recounts the full story of her daughter's disappearance. She says her intention behind writing the book was to ensure Charlene would never be forgotten and because "all missing children need a voice."