Michael Donovan
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Shannon Matthews: Where is kidnapper Michael Donovan now and how long did he spend in prison?

Michael plotted with Shannon's mum Karen to get the £50,000 reward

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In 2008, Karen Matthews ‘kidnapped’ her own daughter Shannon with the help of accomplice Michael Donovan, but where is Michael Donovan now?

Why did they do it? And how long did they spend in prison?

Here’s everything you need to know about the infamous case.

Karen Matthews makes public appeal for her daughter's safe return
Karen Matthews appeals for information on her so-called missing daughter (Credit: Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo)

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Who is Michael Donovan?

Michael was born Paul Drake, the youngest of nine children, and brought up on an estate in Dewsbury.

Social services removed his two daughters after allegations were made that Michael made them watch him have sex with prostitutes.

He was accused of kidnapping one daughter when he breached a court order by picking her up from school.

The case was eventually dropped.

Michael has learning difficulties, with an IQ of around just half the national average.

Did he kidnap Shannon Matthews?

In 2008, he plotted with Karen Matthews to kidnap her daughter Shannon, and dupe the nation.

He was the uncle of Karen’s partner at the time, Craig Meehan.

The pair hoped to receive the £50,000 reward for her safe return.

Shannon became involuntarily famous in the UK when she ‘went missing’ on February 19 2008.

It became a major missing person police operation, compared to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

At the time, her mother Karen and her partner Craig Meehan made numerous public appeals.

After 24 days, Shannon was alive and well and discovered on March 14 2008.

It emerged that Karen had plotted the kidnap with her boyfriend’s uncle, Michael Donovan.

Karen and Michael drugged Shannon with sedatives and hid her in the base of a divan bed at Michael’s house.

He was 39 at the time of his arrest.

Was Shannon Matthews abused?

Questions were asked whether Shannon had been abused, sexually or physically.

Karen Matthews and Michael Donovan never had charges brought against them.

No evidence ever suggested that Shannon was abused.

The jury discovered that Shannon was drugged and restrained with a strap tied to a roof beam.

Michael gave Shannon sedatives to keep her quiet, but she was not physically harmed.

Further tests revealed Shannon had been drugged for up to almost two years before her disappearance.

Shannon Matthews BBC News
Shannon Matthews’ school picture appeared on the BBC News (Credit: BBC One/YouTube)

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How long did Michael Donovan spend in prison?

A jury sentenced Michael and Karen to eight years imprisonment following a trial at Leeds Crown Court.

They received concurrent six- and three-year terms for kidnap and false imprisonment.

The judge gave them two further years to run consecutively for perverting the course of justice.

However, they spent just three years in jail.

They walked free in 2012, after serving half their sentences.

Police later arrested Michael Donovan again for “poor behaviour”.

Members of the public saw him acting bizarrely while sitting on a bench in a Leeds market place.

Police picked him up after a request from parole officials.

He returned to prison for a brief period.

Where is Michael Donovan now?

Michael’s whereabouts are currently unknown.

No one knows what happened to him after his latest release from prison.

According to the Mirror, Micheal has been disowned by his family.

Karen Matthews and partner Craig Meeham leave home in Dewsbury last night Friday PICTURE BY PHIL SPENCER
Karen Matthews and partner Craig Meehan pictured in Dewsbury after Shannon’s alleged disappearance (Credit: Phil Spencer)

Who is Craig Meehan?

Craig is the nephew of Michael Donovan.

He dated Karen Matthews for around five years, including the time of the fake kidnapping.

Police found no connection with Craig and the nine-year-old’s abduction.

Craig knew nothing about the extortion plot.

However, he was later found to be in possession of child pornography during police investigations.

Craig, 22 at the time, was jailed in 2008 for 20 weeks and put on the Sex Offenders Register.

He spent 166 days on remand and was released.

The child pornography was not linked to the Shannon Matthews case.

Where is he now?

Craig walked free from prison and settled in Keighley, West Yorkshire.

Local residents attacked him when they recognised him.

He moved several times, only to be recognised and attacked.

He eventually returned to Dewsbury, just metres away from where he had lived with Karen Matthews.

Craig was unmasked in 2017 living just 100 yards from a primary school.

Angry residents raged at him, forcing Craig into hiding.

The Disappearance of Shannon Matthews on Channel 5

The Disappearance of Shannon Matthews is a two-part documentary.

It examines the disappearance of nine-year-old Shannon Matthews in Yorkshire in 2008.

The investigation gripped the nation.

The series features exclusive interviews with Shannon’s best friend at the time Megan Aldridge.

It also talks to the police officers who eventually found her and members of the local community.

The Disappearance of Shannon Matthews starts on Channel 5 at 9pm on Wednesday February 10 2021.

Will you be watching this documentary series? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.

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