SHANNON MATTHEWS was the victim of a vile plot by her mother that caused a national outcry and police search for the youngster.
The schoolgirl was found alive – but only after it was revealed her mum Karen Matthews had drugged and tethered her to a bed in a bid to pocket the £50,000 reward for finding Shannon.
What happened to Shannon Matthews?
In 2008, the youngster – then aged nine – vanished on her way home from a swimming lesson in Dewesbury, West Yorks, sparking a huge £3.2million search.
Hundreds of neighbours and friends joined the mission with Shannon's mum Karen sobbing on TV as she pleaded for her daughter to come home.
But in a shocking twist, it was revealed the monster was behind a plot that saw her daughter drugged and hidden her in a divan bed in a callous bid to claim the £50,000 reward.
The discovery, made 24 days after Shannon vanished, stunned the nation.
More than 250 officers and 60 detectives were involved in the search with cops quizzing 1,500 motorists and searching 3,000 addresses before she was finally found in Michael Donovan’s grotty flat.
A Channel 5 documentary The Disappearance Of Shannon Matthews shed new light on the case with interviews from many who knew Shannon, including her best friend Megan Aldridge.
Megan said: "That afternoon we were going to the swimming baths with school and as usual me and Shannon paired up together straightaway.
"When that was over we got on the coach back together. Once we got off the coach, something didn't seem right.
“Cause her mum told her, her brother was picking her up that day after school but he never showed up. Cause normally if, like, she sends one of the kids to pick Shannon up from school, they’d be waiting outside the gates before we even got there. But there was no one there.
"That was literally, like, the last time I saw her."
Shannon was taken into care and given a new identity after the discovery – meaning Megan hasn't seen or spoken to her best friend in 13 years.
She said: "It was upsetting and still is upsetting I'm not going to see her.
"I literally lost my best friend, like the only person I wanted to talk to and wanted to be around.
"I genuinely hope she's living the life she wanted now after everything she's been through, she deserves to be happy."
When did Shannon go missing and how long for?
Shannon had last been seen outside her school, Westmoor Junior School, about half a mile from her home in Dewsbury Moor, West Yorks, on February 19, 2008.
The young girl was missing for a total of 24 days before she was found by police.
During that time a massive investigation was launched to find her.
More than 250 officers and 60 detectives were involved in the search.
West Yorkshire Police questioned 1,500 motorists and searched 3,000 addresses.
Neighbours of the family in The Moorside estate, which gave the 2017 BBC drama about the kidnapping its name, joined Karen and other family members in the search party.
Reward money was offered as part of the appeal to find the youngster until she was found alive on March 14.
How did police find Shannon?
The nine-year-old was found tethered and drugged inside the base of a double bed at relative Michael Donovan’s grotty flat almost a month after she disappeared.
An elasticated strap with a noose on the end was found in his loft and may have been used as a method of restraint when he went out.
With it around her waist, Shannon would have been able to use the toilet and certain rooms, but not get out of the flat.
Police described the moment they found her hidden inside a divan bed, tied up with rope and drugged.
Det Con Paul Kettlewell told the BBC's Panorama: "I heard Shannon's voice from within this bedroom. I clearly heard her.
"Although I knew I'd heard her, I didn't know where she was. And then I became aware of movement.
"I reached over, picked Shannon up and carried her out. I couldn't believe that I'd found her. We had Shannon and she was alive, I just couldn't believe it."
It later emerged Shannon's mum Karen Matthews, who was going out with Donovan’s nephew Craig Meehan at the time, had devised the elaborate plot in a bid to claim a £50,000 reward.
Images showing the conditions of the flat Shannon was held in for more than three weeks were released.
Where is Shannon Matthews now?
After she was found alive she was put into police protection – her location cannot be disclosed.
She was cared for by the social services, and is now an adult.
She has been given a new identity and lives with a new family.
Her six siblings were also put into care and given new identities.
What happened after Shannon's fake kidnapping?
On December 4, 2008, mum-of-seven Karen and Donovan were found guilty of kidnapping, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice.
Both were sentenced at Leeds Crown Court to eight years behind bars.
Meehan was jailed for 20 weeks after unrelated child sex abuse material was discovered on his computer.
Matthews, who has been dubbed Britain’s Most Hated Mum, was released from prison after serving half her sentence.
After The Moorside aired, she was exclusively pictured working at a charity shop.
Matthews has received death threats and, according to the Daily Star, had a pot of scalding hot mushy peas poured on her head as she left her local takeaway.
In April 2018, the shameless mum is now said to have been exposed flogging Pret A Manger food to homeless people when she should have been taking the unused grub to a food shelter.
Later in May 2018 she claimed she is not "Britain's worst mum" citing the fact that she didn't kill anybody and claimed "Baby P's mum and Maxine Carr don't get the abuse I do".
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