Shannon's mother faces trial for 'abduction'

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The Independent Online

Karen Matthews will be tried later this year accused of offences relating to the alleged abduction of her daughter Shannon.

Matthews, 32, is charged with perverting the course of justice and child neglect in relation to the disappearance of Shannon in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, in February.

A judge at Leeds Crown Court told her she will go on trial on 11 November alongside Michael Donovan, who is charged with Shannon's kidnapping and false imprisonment.

Matthews, of Moorside Road, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire appeared in court via a videolink from New Hall Prison, near Wakefield.

She sat in a chair behind a table wearing a sky-blue T-shirt under a grey zipped top and with her red hair hanging loose over her shoulders.

Matthews spoke only to confirm her name and that she could hear the proceedings.

She sat listening to the lawyers attentively for the 10 minute hearing.

Donovan, 39, of Lidgate Gardens, Batley Carr, West Yorkshire, was not in court but was represented by his solicitor, Malcolm Nowell.

The judge, The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier QC, heard that Matthews and Donovan will both go on trial together.

There was no application for bail by Richard Butters, representing Matthews, and she was remanded in custody.

Both defendants will appear again at Leeds Crown Court for a plea and case management hearing on 11 July.

Shannon, nine, went missing from Dewsbury Moor on 19 February following a school swimming trip.

A huge police operation involving more than 300 officers was mobilised to find her.

She was found in the base of a bed at Donovan's flat, just a mile from her home, after a 24-day police search.

Donovan, formerly known as Paul Drake, was arrested at the flat.

Matthews was arrested earlier this month.

The perverting the course of justice charge she faces alleges that she "repeatedly concealed information in relation to the whereabouts of Shannon Matthews in interviews and other contacts with officers from the West Yorkshire Police and claimed to have no knowledge of her whereabouts".

A number of members of Matthews' extended family have also been arrested by officers investigating the incident and released on bail pending further inquiries.

Her ex-partner, Craig Meehan, has appeared in court to face child pornography charges unrelated to Shannon's disappearance. He is currently remanded in custody awaiting trial.