Karen Mathews and Michael Donovan have been sentenced to eight years in prison after being found guilty of kidnap, the false imprisonment of Shannon Matthews and perverting the course of justice. That should give them both plenty of time to reflect on their outrageously shocking behaviour , especially Karen who has left her daughter traumatised according to the Judge and in need of psychotherapy.
Mother has seven children with five different fathers and lives in a Council home. Mother has no job and lives on benefits with partner. One evening while returning from school, one of mother’s children goes missing without any trace and without any obvious reason. Mother is in a panic and calls the Police reporting her daughter missing. The police immediately set up a search team and a huge operation is under way to find missing child.
Mother is distraught, in tears and appears devastated. She makes appeals on TV holding the child’s favourite teddy bear for the safe return of her child and pleads with her kidnapper for her release, the local community rallies to support mother and offer their support, a huge reward is put up by national newspaper for anyone able to locate the child, an appeal fund is set up by the family and hundreds of police and volunteers from the local communities take part in search for missing child. The press and media descend on mother’s home and keep country up to date with what is happening in the ongoing search for the child. The Local Authority also tidies up mother’s garden so it looks good for the cameras.
Nevertheless, some people suspect foul play, and whispers are heard about mother and family but these are dismissed and cast aside as the work of the middle class snobs looking down on mother – missing child is primary concern, class war can wait .
Against all odds and after worried filled 24 days fearing the worst, the child is found safe with a relative of mother who is immediately arrested and charged with kidnap and who later attempts suicide while in custody. The mother, her family, the neighbourhood, town and whole country breath a collective sigh of relief that child is found unharmed. Wild celebrations ensue and the millions of pounds spent in the search is regarded as money well spent by the Police who are congratulated for having done an amazing job.
Mother is overwhelmed at meeting child but the child is not returned to mother, initially to give authorities time to question the child but later because this is in the best interests of the child. The remaining children living with mother are taken away as mother’s partner is charged and later convicted of downloading child pornography on his home computer. Later mother is questioned about missing child, arrested and charged.
The neighbours, local community and the people of the town are at a loss as to what has gone on, their emotions moving from despair at the kidnap to elation at the discovery of the child to shock at the arrest and role of mother. They wait with bated breath for the outcome of the trial.
This unfortunately isn’t a well crafted storyline from a dodgy soap but a real story from the broken society of modern day Britain. The trial of kidnapped Dewsbury school girl Shanon Mathews’ mother Karen, and Michael Donovan has got under way at Leeds Crown Court. They are charged with kidnap, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice. The evidence looks overwhelming but both deny all charges.