Mother 'showed no interest in Shannon welfare'

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The Independent Online

Karen Matthews did not ask about the welfare of her daughter when police told her she had been found but made a "glib comment" about an officer's mobile ringtone, a court heard today.

Matthews made no inquiries about her daughter's welfare as she was driven to a police station after Shannon was found following a 24-day search.

Detective Constable Mark Cruddace told a jury at Leeds Crown Court that he attended Moorside Road, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, with a colleague to break the news of Shannon's discovery.

The officer said there was a "buzz of excitement in the house" and he got the impression "people knew before we got there".

Julian Goose QC, prosecuting, asked him if there was "any time when she asked about the welfare of her daughter or where she had been found".

The officer replied: "No, she didn't."

Mr Goose asked him if anything else happened as they travelled in the police car.

Mr Cruddace said: "A bit of a strange incident where my colleague's phone rang.

"When the phone rang, Karen just commented on the fact she liked the ring tone."

The officer agreed it was a "glib comment".

Yesterday, the jury was told Shannon was drugged and restrained with a strap tied to a roof beam after her mother hatched a plan to make £50,000 from her faked kidnap.

The jury was told Shannon was kept locked in a flat for 24 days by Michael Donovan, who police believe used an elasticated strap with a noose on the end to tether her when he went out.

Prosecutors said Donovan drugged the nine-year-old with Temazepam and travel sickness tablets and gave her a list of "rules".

All the time Shannon's mother, Karen Matthews, kept up a "wicked and dishonest lie" - knowing all the time where her daughter was as police conducted a massive search operation which eventually cost almost £3.2m, the jury was told.

Matthews, 33, and Donovan, 40, deny kidnapping Shannon, who is now 10, and falsely imprisoning her. They also deny perverting the course of justice.

The court heard the pair hatched the plan to kidnap Shannon in Dewsbury in February to get hold of reward money which was offered by a newspaper.

The court was told Shannon went missing on 19 February after a swimming trip at school.

It is alleged Donovan kept Shannon prisoner at his first-floor flat in Lidgate Gardens, Batley Carr - a mile from her home in Moorside Road, Dewsbury Moor.

Mr Cruddace confirmed that, earlier in the search for Shannon, he was told by Matthews that a clairvoyant had described a flat in Dewsbury where the little girl could be found.

The officer said he was told this at Moorside Road by the defendant and her then partner, Craig Meehan.

He told the court: "We were told by both Karen and Craig Meehan that they'd been to see a medium or clairvoyant who'd given them a strong indication that Shannon Matthews could be found at an address in West Town.

"They said they'd been on a walk the night before and this medium had directed them to this flat."

Mr Cruddace said he did not have an exact address but was able to find the property easily, given the directions.

He confirmed that he called at the address with another detective and spoke to the occupier.

Detective Superintendent Andy Brennan, the senior investigating officer in the search for Shannon, said huge police resources were used.

He told the jury at one point he had 75-85 detectives working on the search for the nine-year-old.

By comparison, he said, a murder inquiry would normally have 10-15 detectives working on the case. A large management team was also set up as the hunt for Shannon intensified.

The search for Shannon meant detectives working on "live" inquiries, such as murder and stranger rapes, were re-deployed to help in the hunt for the youngster, he said.

"We always hoped we would find Shannon safe and well and we hit it with everything we had got and we had to take people from live jobs," he said.

About 800 people in the area were identified as being particularly interesting to the inquiry, Mr Brennan told the court.

He said the inquiries relating to these people were "particularly intrusive", especially as some of them lived close to Shannon's house.

Mr Goose asked the detective if he had ever had any doubt this was a genuine missing person inquiry until Shannon was found.

He replied: "None at all".

Mr Brennan added: "It was quite unlike anything I've been involved with."

He agreed he used Matthews to keep the press interest in the case.

But he disagreed that the media interest was "frenzied".