Shannon Matthews' mother in court

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The Independent Online

The mother of schoolgirl Shannon Matthews, who went missing for 24 days earlier this year, appeared in court today charged with her kidnap and false imprisonment.

Karen Matthews, 33, appeared at Leeds Crown Court along with Michael Donovan, 40, who faces the same charges.

During a 20-minute pre-trial review, legal matters relating to the forthcoming trial were discussed by the prosecution and the defendants' barrister.

Matthews and Donovan will go on trial on 11 November. The case is expected to last between three and four weeks, the court was told.

Both defendants have already pleaded not guilty to the kidnap and false imprisonment of nine-year-old Shannon.

They also deny perverting the course of justice. Matthews also faces a child neglect charge.

Shannon disappeared on 19 February and was eventually discovered less than a mile from her home in Dewsbury Moor, West Yorkshire, 24 days after she went missing.

Donovan, of Lidgate Gardens, Dewsbury, was arrested on 14 March after the schoolgirl was found in nearby Batley Carr.

Formerly known as Paul Drake, he is the uncle of Shannon's stepfather Craig Meehan.

Shannon vanished after going on a swimming trip. Police mounted a massive investigation involving hundreds of officers and a team of 60 detectives to find her. She was eventually found in a drawer of a bed.

Both defendants were remanded in custody following today's hearing.