A mother jailed for eight years for what a judge described as a “truly despicable” plot to abduct her nine-year-old daughter is thought to have been freed from prison.
Karen Matthews, then 33, was sent to Foston Hall prison, Derby, after being jailed in January 2009 for the kidnap of her daughter Shannon.
She is believed to have been released after serving half her sentence.
There was no official confirmation last night, but Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the probation union Napo, said Matthews would be on licence for the remainder of her sentence and banned from returning to the area of Dewsbury where she lived.
Conditions of Matthews’s release also ban her from associating with Michael Donovan, in whose flat the youngster was found. Donovan was also jailed for eight years and has already been released.
Mr Fletcher added: “Because of her notoriety, special measures will be taken to protect her from threats and from getting involved in any further offending.”
Matthews will also have to report to probation, live at an approved address and be of good behaviour.
As the media gathered outside Foston Hall yesterday, inmates shouted from cell windows Matthews had been released.
Shannon was nine when she disappeared from her home in Dewsbury Moor in February 2008 and she was found 24 days later at her stepfather’s uncle’s home less than a mile away. Her mother had plotted to claim a reward.
Dewsbury Moor vicar the Rev Kathy Robertson said: “I think the people of Dewsbury Moor just want to move on and just continue with their own lives. There’s still a lot of hurt among some people there but they are a strong, robust community.”
Matthews wants to take part in a lie detector test on ITV’s Jeremy Kyle show to prove her innocence, says cousin Susan Howgate.