FRIENDS and family of Karen Matthews have promised to stand by her, despite her arrest over daughter Shannon’s alleged abduction.
People on Moorside Road at Dewsbury Moor were left reeling yesterday when the investigation into the nine-year-old Shannon’s 24-day disappearance took yet another extraordinary twist.
Mother-of-seven Karen, 32, was taken in by police on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.
Her best friend and neighbour, Petra Jamieson, 30, said: “Everyone is crushed. Since the news of the arrest of Craig (Craig Meehan, Shannon’s stepfather) arrest last Wednesday there have been a lot of mixed emotions.
“I don’t know what to feel or how to think.
“She’s my best friend and all the support I have given her up to now I will continue to give her.
“All she needs is a cuddle from a friend now.
“I’m 100% behind her. I’m not going to let her down now when she needs her friends the most.
“I think a lot of people will back away from getting involved with Karen, but that’s one thing I’m not going to do.”
Ms Jamieson said the continued developments in the case had affected the whole community.
She added: “It has been an emotional rollercoaster for everyone.
“We are all parents on this estate, so we are all feeling exactly the same. It just keeps getting worse and worse; the nightmare doesn’t seem to be ending.
“I personally haven’t been able to see Shannon. I would love to be able to give her a cuddle.”
Karen’s cousin, Vicky Saunders, 29, was on a night shift at the care home where she works when she heard about Karen’s arrest.
She said: “It was about 4am and I switched the news on. I couldn’t believe it. I was just so shocked. I had to look twice.
“No matter what happens – even if she’s charged – she has got my 100% support.
“I just can’t believe she would have done this or have been involved. I don’t think she could have kept it up for this long.
“I think we will still be a community and stand by her no matter what.”
The arrest came as it was revealed that Michael Donovan, who has been charged with kidnapping and imprisoning Shannon, slit his wrists while on remand at Armley Prison, Leeds.
Donovan, 39, formerly known as Paul Drake, of Lidgate Gardens, Batley Carr, was arrested on March 14 after Shannon was found at his flat.
He is Craig Meehan’s uncle.
Donovan’s was the first in a string of arrests by police investigating the alleged abduction.
Meehan himself was last week charged with 11 counts of possessing indecent images of children.
He was remanded in custody to appear again before the same court on Friday.
Meehan’s sister, Amanda Hyett, 25, who lives next door to Shannon’s mother in Moorside Road, and his mother, Alice Meehan, 49, were both arrested on Thursday.
Hyett was held on suspicion of helping an offender and Alice Meehan on suspicion of trying to pervert the course of justice.
The pair were granted bail the following day pending further inquiries.
Vicky Saunders revealed that Karen had received death threats following Meehan’s arrest.
She said: “People were saying that if she came back on the estate she would get her house fire-bombed.
“ She was brave to come back after that.
“I can’t believe that she would have anything to hide, otherwise why would she come back?”