12 November 2008

Shannon Matthews Mother on Trial

The case of Shannon Matthews, the schoolgirl who prompted a huge search when she disappeared early this year for almost a month, came before a jury this morning.

Ten-year-old Shannon's mother, Karen, is accused of kidnapping, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice by pretending to West Yorkshire police she had no idea where her daughter was.

Alongside her in the dock will be 40-year-old Michael Donovan, who faces the same charges. Donovan is the uncle of her partner. Both defendants will plead not guilty in a trial that is expected to last four weeks.

Donovan abducted Shannon as she was on her way home from school in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, by telling her he was taking her to a fair. He gave her Temazepam -- a type of sleeping tablet and travel sickness pills and kept her tethered to an elasticated strap attached to a roof beam through a loft hatch when he went out. The strap was discovered by officers searching the first-floor flat following Shannon's discovery. It had a large loop at the end which, at full stretch, would reach around most of the flat but not permit anyone who was restrained by it from leaving through the front door. Donovan would have used it to restrain Shannon when he left the flat to go shopping.

Meanwhile Karen Matthews kept up a "wicked and dishonest lie" as her daughter became the subject of a massive police search operation and a reward fund offered by a local newspaper grew to £50,000. Apparently Donovan planned to release Shannon and then "discover" her.

The trial continues tomorrow.

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