By Julia Bennett
Published on Saturday 24 December 2011 09:40
A senior detective – who played a key role in the Charlene Downes murder probe – has been told she must resign.
Police chiefs have not revealed details of what led to the disciplinary hearing, but confirmed the officer’s behaviour and conduct “lets everybody down”.
Det Sgt Janet Beasant was tasked with transcribing secretly recorded conversations between two suspects.
They had been charged with murdering the Blackpool teenager and disposing of her body.
Part of the evidence used in the trial of the men said they could be heard boasting Charlene (pictured) had been chopped up and put into a mincing machine.
Following a disciplinary hearing by Lancashire Police, Det Sgt Beasant has been found guilty of misconduct and told she must leave the force.
Although not naming Det Sgt Beasant by name, a Lancashire Police statement confirmed: “Following a two-week internal hearing an independent panel has ruled a Lancashire Police officer must resign after finding them guilty of misconduct.”
The statement added: “The officer was found guilty of two counts of misconduct, for one of which they were required to resign, and one for which they were reprimanded. A third count was found not proven.”
Despite one of Lancashire Police’s biggest ever missing person’s inquiries Charlene, who was 14 when she disappeared in 2003, has never been found.
Following her disappearance allegations surfaced the St George’s High school pupil had been murdered at the former Funny Boyz takeaway on Dickson Road.
Owners of the takeaway Iyad Albattikhi, who was accused of murder, and Mohammed Reveshi, who was charged with helping dispose of a body, denied ever meeting Charlene.
The jury was told Det Sgt Beasant spent 2,500 hours over two years listening to 52 audio tapes of covert recordings gathered during the month-long surveillance of Reveshi’s car and Hornby Road flat prior to the trial.
During the 11-week trial in 2007, Preston Crown Court heard detectives believed they could hear reference to Charlene’s body being put into a mincing machine.
But Mr Reveshi and Mr Albattikhi walked free from court when a jury failed to reach a verdict.
A re-trial was ordered, but the case collapsed on the eve of the hearing after prosecutors withdrew the charges and the judge ordered not guilty verdicts be returned on both defendants.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission criticised the police investigation into Charlene’s disappearance in a report published in October 2009, which uncovered “a catalogue of errors”.
Following the decision of yesterday’s disciplinary panel, which was made up of senior officers from outside the Lancashire force, Supt Simon Giles, Lancashire Police’s head of professional standards, said: “Lancashire Police expects the highest professional standards from all our staff and the panel has found this individual’s conduct has fallen well short of these standards.
“This sort of behaviour and conduct lets everybody down – not just the police service but those the police serve. It is appropriate they have faced the consequences of their actions.
“The public of Lancashire can be reassured any conduct such as this will be robustly investigated, and it must be remembered the overwhelming majority of our staff take great pride in delivering a first class policing service.”
He added: “We have previously acknowledged that certain aspects of this case have not been well managed – specifically during the time prior to the trial – and for this we have apologised to the Downes family.
“Lancashire has a proud and successful tradition of investigating serious crime and many officers and police staff have spent a vast amount of time, effort and commitment on this case and their determination to solve it remains at the highest level.”
Det Sgt Beasant, who can appeal against the result of the disciplinary hearing, was unavailable for comment.