A dad-of-four, whose missing sister is believed to have been murdered and 'cut up for kebab meat', never got over her disappearance before his own tragic death, an inquest heard.
Robert Downes, 30, was found unresponsive in his bedroom by his parents having overdosed on heroin, in December 2021.
His devastated mother, Karen Downes, said her 'wonderful' son 'never got over' what happened to his older sister, Charlene Downes, following her disappearance in November 2003.
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Charlene, aged 14, vanished without a trace in Blackpool sparking a huge police investigation, but she was never found.
Two men were tried in May 2007—one for Downes' murder, the other for helping to dispose of her body.
The prosecution alleged that the men had discussed disposing of her body by putting it in kebabs sold from a fast food outlet owned by one of the accused.
However, the jury failed to reach a verdict and a subsequent trial collapsed due to concerns about the evidence compiled by Lancashire Constabulary.
Charlene's heartbroken family faced further tragedy when her brother was found unresponsive at the family home on December 4, 2021.
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Robert was described by his mum as ‘one of the nicest individuals', The Mirror reports.
Following an inquest into his death, his grief-stricken mother said: “He was a wonderful person, he was one of the nicest individuals but he was a misunderstood person.
"He was never the same after Charlene – we had such a lot of trauma. He said he just could not get over Charlene and his nanna dying; we never had any justice.”
His mum added: “He was lovely; he was genuine, caring, but he was like anybody would be with what had happened.
"He would do anything for anybody and he was a very kind man; a lot of people spoke very highly of him.
“He had four beautiful children, and was due to start college and had found a job again, but this was a massive tragedy which impacted on us all.
"Robert would make anybody laugh and he was lovely.”
An inquest at Blackpool Town Hall on Tuesday (July 5) heard that Robert had gone with his father to the Man Bar on Dixon Road the morning of his death, where Robert left at one point before returning.
The pair got a taxi to Blackpool FC, where they both worked as stewards, with his dad, Robert Downes (snr) returning home at around 11.30 pm that night after having gone to the pub.
The tragedy then unfolded when Robert’s dad went upstairs to speak to his son and found him lying unresponsive on his back.
His horrified dad performed CPR, and his parents told the inquest that the stress and anxiety of finding their beloved son in such a condition meant that emergency services were called some time later, arriving at the scene just before 3am.
Home Office pathologist Dr Alison Armour, giving evidence to the inquest, said a blood sample from Robert (Jnr) showed a level of heroin which was within the range of high risk of fatality.
The inquest heard Robert had suffered from depression, but his family said he was not thinking of self harm.
Returning a medical cause of death as heroin morphine toxicity and a conclusion of death by misadventure, Blackpool and Fylde Senior Coroner Alan Wilson said the heroin he had taken had proved fatal, adding: “He has clearly used the drugs intentionally, but he has not intended to die as a result.”
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