The full story of one of the most shocking crimes of the twenty-first century, now the subject of a BBC drama, The Moorside, starring Sheridan Smith.
On 19 February 2008, a nine-year-old girl disappeared while making her way home from a school swimming trip. The 999 call made by her mother alerted the police to the nine-year-old's disappearance and sparked the search for Shannon Matthews that spread from the Dewsbury estate where she lived across the north of England. The story dominated newspaper headlines and television news for the weeks that followed and there was even an offer of a GBP 50,000 reward for the person who found Shannon.
Twenty-four days later, Shannon was found, concealed in the base of a divan bed in a flat about a mile away from her home in West Yorkshire. The truth that unfolded over the subsequent weeks horrified the public, who had sympathised with the seemingly stricken mother and even helped in the search for Shannon. It transpired that the supposed kidnap of the innocent girl had been a wicked hoax dreamed up by her own mother, Karen Matthews, in league with an accomplice, her stepfather's uncle, Michael Donovan. For almost three weeks, she was kept hidden in his home and given temazepam and travel sickness tablets to subdue her. While Shannon suffered this horrendous ordeal, her captors came up with a plan to release her in Dewsbury Market, and for Donovan to find her and claim the reward money. Shannon was finally discovered when neighbours told police that they had heard a child's footsteps coming from Donovan's flat.
Shannon Matthews: Betrayed from Birth examines the investigation and its repercussions for an innocent girl caught in the lies and greed of those supposed to be caring for her and the community that they deceived.