A BLACKBURN man accused of murdering a 14-year-old girl who vanished in 2003 has been cleared after the charge was dropped.

Schoolgirl Charlene Downes, from Blackpool, disappeared after telling her mother Karen that she would not be late home.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been due to face a re-trial after a previous jury failed to reach a verdict in the case despite a massive investigation by Lancashire police.

But at Preston Crown Court, the prosecution dropped the case and a not guilty verdict was given by Mr Justice Roderick Evans.

The judge was told that a witness in the case was no longer considered to be reliable.

Members of Charlene's family, from Buchanan Street, Blackpool, were not in court to hear the decision.

No evidence was offered against 51-year-old Mohammed Raveshi of Hornby Road, Blackpool, who was accused of assisting an offender.