Grandmother: Shannon spared 'lifetime of misery'

By Rosamond Hutt, PA

The grandmother of Shannon Matthews today claimed the uncovering of a kidnapping plot orchestrated by the girl's mother had saved the youngster from "a lifetime of misery".

June Matthews, whose daughter Karen faces a substantial jail term after being found guilty of kidnapping her own child, told the Sunday Mirror that, despite her ordeal, Shannon would now be better off.

Karen, 33, conspired with her partner's uncle Michael Donovan, 40, to keep Shannon drugged and imprisoned for 24 days in a plan to claim a £50,000 reward offered by a national newspaper.

She was condemned as "pure evil" by Det Supt Andy Brennan, the officer who led the investigation.

In the interview, June said: "I never thought I would say this but the kidnap plot is the best thing that could have happened to Shannon.

"Those three weeks have saved her from a lifetime of misery. We know she will live with her ordeal forever, but anything is better than the awful future she faced with Karen."

Shannon, now 10, went missing on February 19 as she walked home from school.

West Yorkshire Police launched a massive search operation costing almost £3.2 million - one of the largest ever conducted by the force.

On March 14 she was discovered in the base of a divan bed in Donovan's flat in Lidgate Gardens, Batley Carr, West Yorkshire, less than a mile away from her home in Dewsbury Moor.

June told the paper she "wept for hours" after hearing that officers had discovered an elasticated strap in the loft of the property which was believed to have been used to tether Shannon when Donovan went out.

She said: "She'll never forget what they did to her.

"They tied her up and treated her worse than a dog."

The Daily Mail reported that Shannon was taken off the child protection register on the orders of social services' managers despite warnings from social workers.

According to the newspaper, the social services department at Kirklees Council was under pressure to meet an Ofsted target to reduce the length of time children were kept on the list.

The local authority announced it was commissioning an independent Serious Case Review into the contacts all agencies had with Shannon's family in Dewsbury, including social services, before she vanished in February.