Man held after missing Shannon Matthews found alive

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Missing nine-year-old Shannon Matthews was found alive today 24 days after she disappeared.

Police smashed their way into a flat about a mile from her home in Dewsbury to find the youngster concealed in the base of a divan bed.

West Yorkshire police said a 39-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of abduction at the address in Lidgate Gardens, Batley Carr.

Relatives were elated at the news that Shannon had been found alive.

Shannon's aunt Amanda Hyett said: "We've all heard the news. It is great news."

Victoria Saunders, 28, a cousin of Shannon's mother Karen Matthews, who lives a few doors down from her, said: "I've just heard it from her stepfather Craig's sister.

"I'm feeling huge relief. I'm really happy and excited. I haven't been sleeping since she went, but I'm just so happy now."

The West Yorkshire Police statement said: "As part of ongoing investigations, detectives and specialist search officers attended a house at Lidgate Gardens, Batley Carr, Dewsbury, at 12.30pm this afternoon.

"During a search of the house, officers located Shannon Matthews who was found concealed in the base of a divan bed.

"A 39-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of abduction at the address and is currently in custody at a West Yorkshire police station.

"Shannon is currently in the care of West Yorkshire Police.

"Investigations are ongoing."

Residents in Lidgate Gardens said police emerged from the flat carrying Shannon.

The young girl looked "quite calm" and officers confirmed that she was OK.

A local resident, who did not want to give her name, said: "One of my neighbours heard banging.

"When he went outside, police were breaking the door down - the man wouldn't come out so they broke in.

"Apparently they found her in bed. He said she was quite calm. Police carried her out.

"My neighbour asked, 'is it Shannon?" and the policeman just said, 'yes' and said she was OK."

The neighbour said rumours in the street suggested that the man who occupied the flat where Shannon was found lived alone and had children who had been taken into care.

She added: "We haven't seen him for two or three years. But apparently he's come back."

The woman who lives downstairs from him tipped off police after hearing footsteps, she said.

The neighbour did not know whether police arrested the man.

Shannon had not been seen since she disappeared after a school swimming trip in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, on 19 February.

Ms Hyett, Shannon's next door neighbour as well as aunt, said the schoolgirl's mother had been driven away by police from the family home shortly before 2pm.

Earlier this week mother-of-seven Mrs Matthews, 32, said she believed someone she knows had snatched her daughter to hurt her.

But Mrs Matthews said she did not know who could have taken the shy youngster.

Mrs Matthews said: "She got abducted. That's all I can say."