Mother of ‘missing’ Shannon Matthews turns to religion

Handout file photo of Shannon Matthews. Picture: West Yorkshire Police/PA Wire
Handout file photo of Shannon Matthews. Picture: West Yorkshire Police/PA Wire
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A woman who was jailed for eight years for what a judge described as a “truly despicable” plot to abduct her nine-year-old daughter has prayed for forgiveness, it has been reported.

Karen Matthews became notorious in 2008 after her daughter, Shannon, disappeared from their home in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, only to turn up 24 days later, hidden in her stepfather’s uncle’s home, less than a mile away.

Karen Matthews, the mother of Shannon Matthews. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Karen Matthews, the mother of Shannon Matthews. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Matthews and Michael Donovan were jailed after a court heard that they planned the whole disappearance in an attempt to claim a cash reward.

Now the 41-year-old has turned to religion, according to the Daily Mirror.

A friend told the paper that Matthews said: “I know I did something wrong but I’m not the baddest person people are making out.”

She said a Bible group is helping her and she prays every day.

Matthews said through her friend: “I asked for forgiveness through prayer when I first prayed for forgiveness. I knew I did something wrong.”

But the paper said she continues to deny that she abducted her own daughter.

Matthews was released from prison in 2012, halfway through her sentence. Since then she has struggled to find work and lives on benefits, according to the paper.

The dramatic events surrounding the disappearance of Shannon, who turned 18 this year, is likely to be dragged back into the spotlight in the new year with the release of a BBC TV film about the saga.

The Moorside Project will feature Game Of Thrones star Gemma Whelan as Matthews and will focus on her friend, Julie Bushby, played by Sheridan Smith, who led the community’s search for Shannon.

Shannon was found in Donovan’s flat in Lidgate Gardens, Batley Carr, West Yorkshire, in the base of a divan bed.

The youngster had been drugged and forced to adhere to a strict list of rules while held captive.

Prosecutors said Donovan kept Shannon imprisoned as part of a plan he and Matthews hatched to claim a £50,000 reward offered by a national newspaper.

The court was told the ordeal left Shannon “disturbed and traumatised” and suffering from nightmares.

The officer who led the inquiry, Detective Superintendent Andy Brennan, said at the time of her conviction that Matthews had “totally betrayed” her daughter, and condemned her as “pure evil”.

In 2010, a serious case review into Shannon’s case concluded that her abduction could not have been foreseen by social services and other agencies involved with her family.