Dead Girl Chopped Up, Court Told

BBC News, May 24, 2007

A 14-year-old girl was murdered by a takeaway owner who joked with friends that she had been chopped up and mixed in with the kebabs, a court has heard.

It is alleged that Charlene Downes was killed by Iyad Albattikhi, who owns a fast food shop on Blackpool Promenade.

Prosecutors said Charlene was one of a number of girls who had sex with men who worked in fast food shops on the promenade, including Mr Albattikhi.

The 29-year-old, from Blackpool, denies murder at Preston Crown Court.

Tim Holroyde QC, prosecuting, told the jury that Charlene, from Buchanan Street in Blackpool, spent her time hanging around the promenade.

She kissed her mother goodbye on the evening of Saturday 1 November 2003 and vanished off the face of the earth, Mr Holroyde said.

Police started a missing persons inquiry, but later launched a murder probe after being told she had been “killed and chopped up”, the jury heard.

No trace of Charlene’s body has been found.

Mr Holroyde told the jury a witness heard Mr Albattikhi—owner of the Funny Boyz fast food shop—and others talking about “sex with white girls”, including a mention of Charlene.

“He and others present were then laughingly saying that Charlene had gone into the kebabs,” Mr Holroyde said.

Both Mr Albattikhi, a Jordanian immigrant, and his business partner 50-year-old Mohammed Reveshi—who is accused of helping dispose of the body—told police they never knew Charlene.

The pair were joint owners of the fast food shop on Dickson Road where Charlene became a familiar figure hanging around, the court heard.

Mr Holroyde said she was one of a number of adolescent girls who sometimes went at night to an alleyway to meet much older men from the restaurants, sometimes for sex.

Mr Holroyde said that it was the prosecution’s case that there was some sexual activity between Charlene and one—or both—the defendants.

Both the accused were spoken to after Charlene disappeared but told police they did not know her, the court heard.

“And the reason for their lying is that one of them murdered her and the other helped dispose of her body,” Mr Holroyde told the jury.

Property bugged

In 2004, Mr Albattikhi fell out with his brother, Tariq, who told a witness—David Cassidy—that Charlene “had been killed and chopped up and there had been a lot of blood,” Mr Holroyde said.

Mr Cassidy was allegedly warned by Mr Albattikhi that “he would be dealt with” if he told anyone, and was later offered £20,000 by Mr Reveshi, the jury heard.

He went to police in December 2004 and detectives bugged their flats, as well as Mr Reveshi’s Fiat people carrier.

In one of the resulting tapes Mr Reveshi is heard saying the words “eat the body” in a joking tone, Mr Holroyde told the court.

Mr Albattikhi is heard on one tape saying that if “anything” was found he had “had it”.

The trial was adjourned until Friday.

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