Almost four years after saying goodbye to their daughter for the final time, the parents of Charlene Downes now face the prospect of sitting through another painstaking court case in the new year.

Just over a week ago, on August 7, the 13-week trial of the man accused of murdering 14-year-old Charlene, was stopped after the jury said they couldn't reach a decision, following 11 days of deliberations.

When Karen Downes kissed her daughter goodbye in Blackpool town centre, on November 1, 2003, she could never have believed that Charlene would not be seen again.

But that is the grim reality facing Karen, and husband Robert, as they battle to get their lives back to normal.

Mrs Downes, 42, of Buchanan Street, Blackpool, said: "We are determined justice will be done for Charlene, and we will finally have the chance to lay her to rest.

"The thought of facing a retrial, and having to sit through that again is horrendous, but we will be there every day of the trial again."

Charlene's mother revealed that the family had planned to hold a memorial service for their daughter, to finally gain some "closure" to this troubled period of their lives, but this has been put back until after the retrial.

"The worst thing is that we have to go through Christmas not knowing what the new year holds," said Mrs Downes. "We wanted to have the case finished and have a family Christmas, and try and move on."

Charlene's sisters, Emma, 22, and Becky, 20, and brother Robert, 16, have also found it very difficult to face the prospect of a retrial.

Mrs Downes added: "Our daughters were devastated after the case finished, they have already said they don't think they can face a retrial in the new year. It's understandably extremely difficult for them to cope with this, we were all very close."

Preston Crown Court heard that the former boss of Funny Boyz takeaway, on Dickson Road, Iyad Albattikhi, 30, charged with murdering Charlene, had joked she had been cut up and put in the kebabs.

Albattikhi of Dickson Road and his business partner, and co-accused Mohammed Reveshi, 50, of Hornby Road, charged with disposing of the body, both deny the charges and said they never knew Charlene.

The court was also told that Charlene used to visit several takeaways in the resort, and gave some workers sexual favours in return for food.

A report from the Blackpool Area Child Protection Committee published last year slammed social services for failing Charlene, and says they could have responded to concerns over the teenager quicker.

The report highlighted concerns over Charlene's "chaotic" home life, and is highly critical over the time it took to assign a social worker to the family.

Mrs Downes also criticised social services, saying: "We asked social services for help but they were slow to react."

"Charlene was a bit chaotic and troublesome at times, but most teenagers are. We did our best to protect our daughter, we had no idea what was going on and if we did we would have put a stop to it immediately.

"Society can be quick to judge us, but we did our best for Charlene, and neither of us are bad parents."

No-one from Blackpool social services was available for comment.