Page last updated at 16:00 GMT, Thursday, 13 November 2008

Shannon mother 'Jekyll and Hyde'

Karen Matthews
Ms Matthews showed more interest in a ringtone than Shannon, jurors heard

The mother of schoolgirl Shannon Matthews was a "Jekyll and Hyde" character during the 24-day search for her daughter, Leeds Crown Court heard.

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

Ms Brown said Ms Matthews, 33, and her then partner Craig Meehan stayed with her for five days during the search.

Ms Matthews and Michael Donovan deny several charges over the nine-year-old's disappearance in West Yorkshire.

'Laughing and joking'

Ms Matthews and Mr Donovan, 39, deny kidnap, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice.

Asked by the prosecutor Julian Goose, QC, how Ms Matthews behaved, Ms Brown said her house guest had two sides.

"She acted as if it was a normal day. She helped me clean the house and make cuppas, laughing and joking.

"When the police and press were present she came over as all upset and withdrawn," she told the jury.

She described her neighbour as having a "Jekyll and Hyde character".

Shannon Matthews

Det Con Alexander Grummitt, a family liaison officer on the case, said he had had to prompt Ms Matthews to buy a toy for her daughter while on a trip to a supermarket in the days after Shannon had been found.

He also said Mr Meehan had been so keen to get a new computer game that he had driven to the shop to buy it.

Earlier in the trial, Det Con Mark Cruddace said that when he told Ms Matthews that Shannon had been found, she was more interested in the ringtone on a mobile telephone than inquiring about her daughter's health.

Mr Cruddace told the jury that he went to Ms Matthews' home in Moorside Road in Dewsbury with a colleague to break the news of Shannon's discovery.

He said there was a "buzz of excitement in the house" and he got the impression "people knew before we got there".

Mr Goose asked him if there was "any time when (Ms Matthews) asked about the welfare of her daughter or where she had been found".

Mr Cruddace said: "No, she didn't."

The trial continues.

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SEE ALSO
Mother 'uninterested in Shannon'
13 Nov 08 |  West Yorkshire
Shannon search cost police 3.2m
13 Nov 08 |  West Yorkshire
Shannon mother 'lied to police'
12 Nov 08 |  West Yorkshire
Missing Shannon 'drugged' in flat
12 Nov 08 |  West Yorkshire


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