Shannon Matthews documentary – Moment cops knew Karen Matthews involved in daughter's kidnap after 'strange' interview

A POLICE officer has told of the moment he first suspected Karen Matthews was involved in her daughter's kidnap – as she gave a bizarre interview to cops.

Nine-year-old Shannon Matthews vanished in a kidnap plot hatched by her mum Karen Matthews and Michael Donovan.

The little girl's disappearance in March 2008 on her way home from a swimming lesson in Dewsbury, West Yorks, sparked a huge £3.2million search.

Detective Inspector Chris Walker of West Yorks Homicide and Major Enquiry team said his suspicions were raised when Matthews gave a police interview about her daughter.

The mum told cops: “It just feels empty now, the house, without her. It’s not like Shannon.

"She’s timid, she’s scared of the dark and everything. So that’s how I know something’s wrong."

Despite no-one knowing whether Shannon was dead or alive, Karen added: "She’s out there somewhere in a nice warm environment but the person who’s got her is not coming forward which is what we’d like really."

D.I. Walker told a Channel 5 Documentary that she "seemed personally convinced" Shannon was with somebody else, "alive and well".

He said: "It did raise suspicions in my mind that she had some idea of what had happened to Shannon – and at that time there was absolutely nothing to link her to Shannon’s appearance."

Hundreds of neighbours and friends joined the mission to find Shannon, with her mum Matthews seen sobbing on TV as she pleaded for her daughter to come home.

Shannon was found almost a month later hidden in a bed base in a grotty flat by Karen Matthews and Donovan.

Matthews had drugged her daughter and hidden her in a divan bed in a callous bid to claim the £50,000 reward.

Detective Constables Nick Townsend, 61, and Paul Kettlewell, 68, were first on the scene.

I was elated. I couldn’t believe we’d found her and she was alive

Paul, 68, said: "I was elated. I couldn’t believe we’d found her and she was alive.

"As we went down the stairs it was like carrying my own child.

"I passed Nick on the stairs and said, ‘I’ve got her!’ I still get emotional about that moment now.”

Nick added: “Nobody ever thought we’d see Shannon Matthews alive again, so to see her in the arms of PK…

“It’s hard to describe the emotion. You just want to cheer. I can’t describe anything other than euphoric.”

Nick and Paul cracked the case after visiting Dononvan's flat on day 23 of the investigation.

Downstairs neighbour June Batley told officers she had heard "tiny footsteps".

Nick said: “That’s when my spidey senses really started tingling. I couldn’t believe what I had heard.”

The officers called for back-up and used a door rammer to smash their way into the flat.

Paul recalled: “There was a deathly silence, then I heard a little girl’s voice."

An elasticated strap with a noose on the end was found in the loft and used as a method of restraint when Donovan went out.

With it around her waist, Shannon would have been able to use the toilet and certain rooms, but not get out of the flat.


Matthews was going out with Donovan’s nephew Craig Meehan at the time and the pair devised the elaborate plot between them.

They had planned to release the schoolgirl, "discover her", then take her to a police station and claim the £50,000 reward before splitting the cash.

Matthews broke down and admitted to the cruel plot when questioned by her friends in front of a police liaison officer.

Shannon was taken into care and given a new identity after the discovery – meaning Megan hasn't seen or spoken to her best friend in 14 years.

On December 4, 2008, mum-of-seven Karen and Donovan were found guilty of kidnapping, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice.

Both were sentenced at Leeds Crown Court to eight years behind bars.

Meehan was jailed for 20 weeks after unrelated child sex abuse material was discovered on his computer.

Matthews, who has been dubbed Britain’s Most Hated Mum, was released from prison in 2012 after serving just half her sentence.

She has since found love with a convicted paedophile and is living a new life under a different name.

  • The Disappearance of Shannon Matthews, is an ITN Productions for Channel 5, Wednesday 10th Feb & Thursday 11th February at 9pm

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