Shannon: Three women arrested

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The Independent Online

Three women were arrested today by detectives investigating the alleged abduction of Shannon Matthews.

Amanda Hyett, 25, her sister Caroline Meehan, 29, and their mother Alice Meehan, 49, are all being held on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.

All three are being questioned at police stations in West Yorkshire, police said.

Amanda Hyett and Alice Meehan were arrested and bailed last week over the nine-year-old's abduction.

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

Police said all three women were now being questioned on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.

Amanda Hyett is the neighbour of Shannon's mother Karen Matthews, 32, and the sister of Matthews' partner Craig Meehan.

Alice Meehan is the mother of Craig, Amanda and Caroline.

A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said: "Detectives investigating the abduction of a nine-year-old girl in Dewsbury in February have today rearrested a 25-year-old and a 49-year-old woman.

"A 29-year-old woman has also been arrested.

"All are being held on suspicion of perverting the course of justice at police stations in West Yorkshire."

It is understood the latest arrests are procedural and not a major development in the case.

Yesterday, Karen Matthews was remanded in custody when she appeared before magistrates, accused of repeatedly concealing information about the whereabouts of her daughter.

Police discovered the girl 24 days later in the base of a bed at an address just a mile from her home in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

Matthews was charged with perverting the course of justice and child neglect and was remanded in custody until April 16 when she will appear via a videolink at Leeds Crown Court.

The charge of perverting the course of justice 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".

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

Police also urged local residents not to take the law into their own hands and not to jump to conclusions about people involved in the inquiry.

A total of five people have been arrested in connection with the alleged abduction of Shannon.

Michael Donovan, of Lidgate Gardens, Batley Carr, was arrested on March 14, 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 November 11.

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

A sixth person, Matthews' partner Craig Meehan, has been charged with possessing indecent images of children.

West Yorkshire Police have 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.