The Shannon Matthews story just lurches on! . This is the little 9 year old girl from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire that went missing in February after a swimming lesson. She was found 24 days later safe and well in the base of a divan bed after the biggest search in England for 30 years.
The man whose flat she was in turned out to be Michael Donovan, the 39-year-old uncle of her mothers partner, who has been charged with abduction and imprisonment. He was taken to hospital on Sunday after a case of “serious self harm”, (and we all know what that’s a euphimism for!) but has since returned to Leeds prison.
Her mothers partner, 22 year old Craig Meehan has since been remanded in custody on charges of possessing indecent images of children on his computer!
Then Meehan’s mother and sister, who live next door, were arrested and then released on police bail pending further investigations. His mother, 48 yr old Alice Meehan was arrested on suspicion of attempting to pervert the course of justice and his sister, 25yr old Amanda Hyett on suspicion of assisting an offender.
On Sunday Shannons 32 year old mother Karen Matthews was arrested and today (Wed), appeared at the local magistrates court charged with perverting the course of justice and child neglect. She was remanded in custody for a week. She has 7 children by at least 5 different fathers, 4 of whom were living with her (who are believed to have been taken into care)and 3 who don’t.
The first charge read out was: “On a day between the 18th day of February 2008 and the 15th day of March 2008 at Dewsbury being a person who had attained the age of 16 years and having responsibility for Shannon Matthews, a child under that age, namely nine years, wilfully neglected or abandoned the said child in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering to the said child or injury to her health.”
The second charge was: “That you between the 18th day of February 2008 and the 15th day of March 2008 at Dewsbury, contrary to Common Law with intent to pervert the course of public justice, did a series of acts which had a tendency to pervert the course of public justice in that you repeatedly concealed information in relation to the whereabouts of Shannon Matthews in interviews and other contacts with officers with the West Yorkshire Police and claimed to have no knowledge of her whereabouts.”
Detectives are also investigating reports that someone claiming to be connected to the Matthews family asked for money from the fund set up to help to find the missing toddler Madeleine McCann. Clarence Mitchell, a spokesman for the McCanns, said that the family had received two or three such requests.
Poor little Shannon Matthews has not returned home since her rescue and remains in the care of social services. Apparently it has now emerged that the head teacher of one of Shannon’s siblings raised concerns about their upbringing on 10 occasions. ‘Sources’ have said that the head teacher reported the concerns to senior social workers at Kirklees Metropolitan Council but it was unclear what the concerns were, or which of Shannon’s siblings they related to.
Police overtime alone has cost more than £1 million and 30 detectives have been working on the case since Shannnon disappeared.
It is possible there will be more charges made.
This afternoon the families home in Dewsbury has been boarded up.
There is now speculation that this was a copycat crime based on the TV series Shameless. But the fact that the police are now poring over Paul Abbott’s hit series, specifically the episode in which feckless father Frank Gallagher stages a fake kidnap of his youngest son, Liam, in an attempt to raise a £500,000 ransom, certainly raises it as a possibility. A possibility which, if nothing else, attests to the enduring power of drama.
In this case truth is looking decidely stranger than fiction!