Kiwi stalks missing girl's mum

Last updated 13:06 27/12/2013
Karen Downes
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VICTIM: Karen Downes.

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A New Zealand man has been convicted in England of assaulting a woman he obsessively stalked after he learned of her daughter's disappearance.

Mark Bailey, 27, went to Blackpool from New Zealand in May to meet Karen Downes, 48, after chatting to her online.

He met her through a website dedicated to her 14-year-old daughter Charlene, who disappeared in 2003.

The Blackpool Gazette newspaper said an online romance went on for a year, until he saved up enough money to travel to Blackpool, in northeast England.

He met Downes and declared his love for her, asking her to leave the family home and live with him instead, The Gazette reported.

Blackpool Magistrates' Court was told the restaurant worker, who lived in guesthouses, pleaded "be with me and nobody else", it said.

When she refused he assaulted her in the street, the court was told.

Bailey was fined £75 (NZ$151) and handed a six-month restraining order after pleading guilty to assault.

Charlene Downes went missing, allegedly after having been abused by dozens of men in her home city Blackpool.

Police believe she was murdered and her body disposed of in a takeaway shop mincing machine. No one has been convicted of her killing.

Bailey discovered her story and repeatedly contacted the bereaved mother online.

After police warned him not to harass Downes, he approached her in the street and pulled her hair.

"I was terrified and screaming, telling him to get off me because he wanted to talk to me in an alleyway,'' Downes told the Gazette.

She said the New Zealander showed an interest in the site and in her, ''and it snowballed from there.''

"When he told me he was coming here I didn't think he would follow it through, but he did and I was very surprised.

"He wanted me to forget about my family and control me but that was never going to happen because I have children."

Defence lawyer Gary McAnulty told The Gazette his client considered himself to have been in a proper relationship with Downes and moved from New Zealand for her.

"It was slightly bizarre because Mrs Downes is married and lives with her husband.

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"I have had to explain to him she wants nothing more to do with him. It is a sad end."

Bailey had not approached the New Zealand High Commission in London for consular assistance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said. 

- © Fairfax NZ News

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