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Detectives in Sussex and London are hoping that renewed public focus on the disappearance of a 16-year-old girl more than 23 years ago, with the offer of a reward of up to £10,000 by the Crimestoppers charity, will produce valuable information.
On 27 June 1998, Carmel Fenech, also known as Carmel Pendry, then 16 and living in Broadfield, Crawley, was reported missing to Sussex Police. Carmel would be 40 this Saturday (3 July) but police fear she has been murdered and enquiries are continuing.
Independent charity Crimestoppers have now offered a reward of up to £10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person or persons linked to Carmel's disappearance.
Police discovered that Carmel had last been seen at Camberwell Green Magistrates' Court in South London on 21 May 1998, with a man. She did not return home and her mother reported her missing the following month.
Ever since, police enquiries have focused on the South London area from where Carmel and her family had come. They had lived on the North Peckham Estate before moving to Crawley less than a year before she disappeared and Carmel had many friends in that area and nearby Brixton and Stockwell.
She had few contacts or friends in Crawley and virtually all the information received suggests that prior to her disappearance Carmel frequented the Brixton and Stockwell areas.
Detective Inspector Chris Rambour of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team said: "Carmel's disappearance has had widespread media and other publicity over many years, and although no trace of her possible whereabouts has ever been found, her disappearance has not been forgotten.
"We particularly want to identify and speak to the man who Carmel was last seen with on 21 May 1998 as he may be able to provide with information that will assist us with locating her. There is currently no description of him, but he clearly knew her.
"Further lines of enquiry in London were identified by recent reviews and we have been working with the Metropolitan Police to examine these and pursue them where possible, although so far they have not led to any significant developments.
"We have also been keeping in touch with Carmel's mother, Deidre, and have fully discussed the case with her. She will be kept informed of any developments.
"Together, we and Deidre hope that this renewed appeal, combined with the enquiries we are still carrying out, will jog memories and consciences in South London. The answer is out there and we really want to find out what has happened and help achieve justice and closure for her family, even after all these years.
"We will always examine and wherever possible follow up any other new information that may lead to new lines of enquiry."
Carmel's mother, Deidre Fenech, said; "My family have been left in limbo for 23 years,not knowing what has happened to my daughter Carmel has had a devastating effect on my physical and mental health. We continue to function because we are a very close family and continue to support each other.
"A huge part of my life is empty without my daughter Carmel. Please if anyone has any information concerning her whereabouts or any other information please let us know so we can finally get an answer. I thank you in advance for your help."
To qualify for any part of the reward information must be provided directly to Crimestoppers online or by calling freephone 0800 555 111. You can quote Sussex Operation Icon.
Anyone with information about Carmel can also contact Sussex Police via the national Major Incident Public Portal (MIPP).
Sussex Police can also be contacted at any time, either online or by calling 101, quoting Sussex Operation Icon.