Mother of Shannon Matthews remanded in custody

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The mother of Shannon Matthews was remanded in custody today when she appeared before magistrates accused of repeatedly concealing information about the whereabouts of her daughter.

Karen Matthews, 32, appeared in court at Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, flanked by security guards for the 13-minute hearing.

Matthews was charged last night with perverting the course of justice and child neglect following her arrest on Sunday evening.

She was remanded in custody until 16 April when she will appear via a videolink at Leeds Crown Court.

Nine-year-old Shannon went missing from Dewsbury Moor on 19 February following a school swimming trip.

She was found in the base of a bed at an address just a mile from her home after a 24-day police search involving more than 300 officers.

Matthews was led handcuffed into the dock at the magistrates' court and spoke only to confirm her personal details.

Flanked by four dock officers, she wore a blue sweatshirt and dark trousers with her red hair brushed down, partially concealing her face.

Throughout the proceedings she looked at the district judge, Jonathan Bennett, and only glanced at the public gallery near the end of the hearing. At one point she appeared to wipe away a tear and shook her head.

The courtroom was packed with media, Dewsbury Moor residents and Matthews' friends as well as court officials and lawyers.

There were shouts of "yes" when Mr Bennett refused bail and remanded Matthews in custody.

The perverting the course of justice charge alleges she "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."

Following the hearing, a crowd of Matthews' friends and neighbours as well as onlookers gathered in front of lines of police waiting for her to be driven to prison.

Residents of Moorside Road, Petra Jamieson, Julie Bushby, Natalie and Peter Brown, and Neil and Amanda Hyett, linked arms and stood in a row in silence as photographers took their pictures as they waited for Matthews to leave the court.

Earlier today, Matthews, of Moorside Road, Dewsbury Moor, West Yorkshire, was led out of Dewsbury police station in handcuffs before being driven the short distance into the back entrance of the town's magistrates' court.

More than a dozen police officers were stationed outside the vehicle entrance to the court as the white prison van entered the complex.

Just hours after appearing in court, contractors began boarding up her semi-detached council home in Moorside Road.

Police also distributed leaflets to local residents insisting they will "find out the truth".

The leaflet also urged residents not to take the law into their own hands and not to "jump to conclusions about people who maybe involved in the inquiry".

Matthews is the latest family member to be arrested in connection with her daughter's disappearance.

Michael Donovan, of Lidgate Gardens, Batley Carr, was arrested on 14 March, after Shannon was found in his flat.

He was later charged with Shannon's kidnap and false imprisonment and is in custody awaiting trial at Leeds Crown Court on 11 November.

The 39-year-old, formerly known as Paul Drake, is the uncle of Matthews' partner Craig Meehan.

Last week, Meehan's sister, Amanda Hyett, 25, who lives next door to Shannon's mother, and his mother, Alice Meehan, 49, were both arrested in connection with the alleged abduction.

Mrs Hyett was questioned on suspicion of assisting an offender and Mrs Meehan on suspicion of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The pair were released on bail pending further inquiries.

West Yorkshire Police has estimated the cost of overtime and other additional costs incurred in the search for Shannon is around £1 million. This figure does not include the wages of the officers who would have been working anyway.