Page last updated at 07:56 GMT, Wednesday, 16 June 2010 08:56 UK

Shannon Matthews timeline

Map showing locations in Shannon Matthews case

Nine-year-old Shannon Matthews disappeared after a swimming trip with her school in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, on 19 February 2008.

Twenty-four days later she was found alive under a bed in Batley Carr, less than a mile from her home. This is how events unfolded:

19 February, 2008 - The last confirmed sighting of Shannon Matthews is at 1510 GMT outside Westmoor Junior School, Dewsbury.

Her mother, Karen Matthews, reports her missing at 1848 GMT after she fails to return home as expected.

20 February, 2008 - Police announce that they have started a massive search involving more than 200 officers as concern grows for the missing girl.

Her mother makes a plea for her return and posters featuring Shannon's picture are put up around the neighbourhood.

Police suggest she may have run away from home but her family say this would be out of character.

21 February, 2008 - Some 200 volunteers join police in their hunt for Shannon.

Police say they are treating a sighting of Shannon on the day after her disappearance as "significant".

22 February, 2008 - Police release CCTV footage of Shannon leaving Dewsbury Sports Centre on 19 February.

Detectives reveal Shannon had expressed a desire to leave home and had scribbled a note on her bedroom wall saying she wished to see more of her natural father.

They say they are "gravely concerned" for her safety.

26 February, 2008 - As a search involving behavioural experts, a dedicated team of scientists, mountain rescue teams and specially trained dogs fails to find any trace of Shannon, police warn she may have "fallen into the wrong hands".

1 March, 2008 - Matthews issues an emotional appeal for Shannon's return on the eve of Mother's Day.

The Sun newspaper offers £20,000 for information about the nine-year-old's whereabouts.

3 March, 2008 - Matthews issues appeals for anyone holding Shannon to let her go.

She says she thinks someone she knows may have taken her daughter and that the family no longer feels safe.

4 March, 2008 - Police say they have gathered a full DNA profile of Shannon to be used to search places where she may have been since she was last seen.

Shannon's parents and head teacher issue a fresh appeal to the community to help find the missing girl.

The operation, involving 250 police officers and 60 detectives, is said to be using 10% of West Yorkshire Police's operational strength.

5 March, 2008 - Police release a recording of part of the 999 call Matthews made reporting Shannon missing.

12 March, 2008 - Police say almost half the UK's specialist search dogs are involved in the hunt for Shannon - the West Yorkshire force's largest operation since the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper.

Matthews says she fears her daughter has been abducted by someone known to the family in order to "get at her" - but that she has not given up hopes of finding her alive.

The Sun increases its reward to £50,000.

14 March, 2008 - Shannon is found alive and hidden in the base of a divan bed at a house in Batley Carr, West Yorkshire.

Michael Donovan, the uncle of Karen Matthews's partner, is arrested after a struggle with police.

15 March, 2008 - Shannon remains in the care of social services, but meets briefly with her mother and stepfather. She is interviewed by investigators.

17 March, 2008 - Donovan is charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment.

18 March, 2008 - Matthews is interviewed under caution by detectives and denies any involvement in her daughter's disappearance. She dismissed Donovan's accusations against her.

Donovan appears before Dewsbury magistrates.

20 March, 2008 - Police say Shannon, who is being cared for by social services, is only being questioned for 10 minutes a day about her disappearance.

2 April, 2008 - Detectives arrest Shannon's stepfather - Craig Meehan - on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children. He appeared in court and was remanded in custody.

3 April, 2008 - Shannon sees her mother for the first time since she was found by police. They spend three hours together in the afternoon.

6 April, 2008 - Matthews is arrested in Dewsbury on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.

Meanwhile, Michael Donovan was treated in hospital for a "serious case of self harm".

8 April, 2008 - Matthews is charged with child neglect and perverting the course of justice over her daughter's disappearance.

Police also investigate claims the Madeleine McCann fund was approached for money to assist the search for Shannon. The McCann family was apparently asked for money towards helping find Shannon.

9 April, 2008 - Police circulate leaflets on the housing estate where Shannon lived warning people not to take the law into their own hands over the case. It comes as Matthews is remanded in custody after a court appearance.

16 April, 2008 - It is confirmed Matthews will go on trial alongside Michael Donovan. She appeared at Leeds Crown Court via video link to face charges of child neglect and perverting the course of justice.

6 June, 2008 - Matthews is refused bail by a judge ahead of her trial.

9 June, 2008 - A Freedom of Information request to West Yorkshire Police reveals the investigation into Shannon's disappearance cost £2,659,000.

5 September, 2008 - Matthews faces new charges of kidnap and false imprisonment at Leeds Crown Court. She denies the charges and an earlier charge of perverting the course of justice.

Donovan pleads not guilty to charges of kidnap and false imprisonment.

8 September, 2008 - Craig Meehan, the former partner of Karen Matthews, tells a court 134 indecent images of children found on his computer had nothing to do with him.

16 September, 2008 - Meehan is convicted of possessing child pornography and jailed for 20 weeks, but freed because of time already spent on remand. His computer had been seized by police searching for Shannon earlier this year.

12 November, 2008 - At the start of the trial of Karen Matthews and Michael Donovan, the court is told Shannon had been drugged and tethered in the flat where she was found.

The court heard the pair plotted to claim the £50,000 reward money put up by the press for the youngster's return.

13 November, 2008 - Matthews was a "Jekyll and Hyde" character during the 24-day search for her daughter, Leeds Crown Court hears.

Neighbour Natalie Brown said Matthews was usually jovial, but sullen when police or the media were around.

And a detective on the case said she made no enquiries about her daughter's welfare as she was driven to a police station after Shannon was found.

14 November, 2008 - Caroline Meehan, the niece of Michael Donovan tells Leeds Crown Court her uncle was a fantasist and a "bit creepy".

17 November, 2008 - The trial is temporarily halted so Donovan can receive medical treatment after being attacked in jail.

18 November, 2008 - Shannon Matthews was frightened and crying when police found her hidden in the base of a bed, the court is told.

Pc Matthew Troake told the jury that Donovan said to him: "Get Karen down here, we've got a plan" in the police van after his arrest.

19 November, 2008 - A forensic toxicologist tells the court tests showed Shannon had been ingesting the drug temazepam and travel sickness medication for a prolonged period.

20 November, 2008 - Donovan told police Shannon's mother offered him money to look after the youngster and then threatened him, the court hears.

26 November, 2008 - Donovan denies claims that he, his sister, nephew and niece were behind the plot to benefit from the reward for Shannon's return.

27 November, 2008 - Matthews bursts into tears minutes after going into the witness box to give evidence. She sobs as she tells her barrister she is "disgusted because she had nothing to do" with her daughter's disappearance.

28 November, 2008 - Matthews went out shopping for a satellite navigation system on the night her daughter was reported missing, it emerges in court.

1 December, 2008 - Julian Goose QC, in summing up the case for the prosecution, said Matthews "lied and lied and lied again" as she told five different versions regarding her daughter's disappearance.

Alan Conrad QC, for Donovan, said his client was not an "evil monster" but in reality he was a "pathetic inadequate" who was "vulnerable, unsophisticated and weak in body and mind".

4 December, 2008 - Matthews, 33, and Donovan, 40, are found guilty of kidnap, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice.

The pair are warned they face "substantial" jail terms.

The seven men and five women on the jury took about six hours to find the pair unanimously guilty of all charges.

5 December, 2008 - Kirklees Council announces an independent serious case review into the dealings agencies had with the Matthews family after reports Shannon was taken off the child protection register despite warnings from social workers.

5 January, 2009 - Meehan abandons an appeal against his conviction for downloading indecent images of children.

23 January, 2009 - Matthews and Donovan are sentenced to eight years in prison each.

16 June, 2010 - The serious case review concludes that the abduction of Shannon Matthews could not have been foreseen by social services and other agencies involved with her family.



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