Shannon Matthews: Timeline of a travesty

This is how the bizarre case of Shannon Matthews' disappearance unfolded...

The Shannon Matthews case: Full coverage

Tuesday February 19 2008

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8.00am - Shannon sets off for a normal school day.

3.10pm - Shannon returns to school after a swimming trip with her class.

This was the last public sighting of her until she was discovered at Michael Donovan's flat. Sometime after this she gets into Donovan's Peugeot car.

4pm - Shannon's mother, Karen Matthews, goes to her neighbour Victoria Saunders's house to tell her Shannon had not come home and begins a search for her daughter.

4.10pm - Matthews calls Shannon's school asking if the bus has returned from the swimming trip.

6.48pm - Matthews makes a 999 call to the police. Officers arrive within minutes.

Wednesday February 20

More than 200 police officers join local people in an overnight search for Shannon in sub-zero conditions.

By 7am West Yorkshire Police believe the situation is so serious they bring in their Homicide and Major Inquiry Team to run the investigation under Det Supt Andy Brennan.

The force launches a public appeal for help to find Shannon.

Matthews returns home and makes an emotional appeal on her doorstep.

Thursday February 21

Mr Brennan says 250 uniformed officers plus 60 detectives are looking for Shannon and reveals a number of possible sightings of her on the day she vanished.

Local people hand out posters in Leeds appealing for help.

Donovan's neighbour, Carol Battye, speaks to a woman who asked what time Donovan would be home. She later identified this person as Matthews after an ID parade.

Friday February 22

Shannon's father, Leon Rose, says his daughter had spoken about wanting to live with him before she went missing.

Police release CCTV footage of Shannon leaving the leisure centre on the day she vanished.

Sunday February 24

Prayers are said for Shannon at a local church and the parents of Madeleine McCann post a message of support on their blog.

Tuesday February 26

Mr Brennan concedes Shannon "may have fallen into the wrong hands".

Family and neighbours stage a vigil to mark a week since she disappeared.

Friday February 29

Shannon's best friend, Megan Aldridge, nine, gives an interview saying she is "really, really sad" and says she saw her walking the wrong way from school.

Saturday March 1

Matthews issues a Mother's Day message to Shannon and The Sun offers a 20,000 reward.

Monday March 3

Matthews makes an emotional appeal at a police press conference clutching Shannon's "Love Teddy". She says she cannot trust those close to her.

Tuesday March 4

A further police appeal reveals detectives still have not found Shannon's swimming kit and officers are planning to search 3,000 local homes.

Local vigil to mark second week since Shannon vanished.

Wednesday March 5

Craig Meehan, Karen Matthews's partner at the time, gives an interview denying any involvement in his stepdaughter's disappearance.

Police release a recording of part of the 999 call Matthews made reporting Shannon missing.

Sunday March 9

Shannon's grandparents, June and Gordon Matthews, give a detailed interview making a range of allegations about their daughter and Meehan.

Tuesday March 12

Police say they are using 16 out of the UK's 27 "victim recovery dogs" - or body dogs - in the operation and it is the biggest West Yorkshire Police investigation since the Yorkshire Ripper inquiry.

The Sun increases its reward to 50,000.

Friday March 14

12.45pm - Det Con Paul Kettlewell and Det Con Nick Townsend call at Donovan's flat in Lidgate Gardens, Batley Carr, and get no response despite neighbours saying he is in. They call for back-up from the Operation Support Unit.

1.20pm - When the extra officers arrive, they smash their way into the flat and find Shannon 24 days (23 days, 18 hours and 22 minutes) after Matthews's 999 call. She is found hidden in a bed alongside Donovan, who was arrested after a struggle.

1.34pm - Donovan tells Pc Matthew Troake "Get Karen down here, we've got a plan" in the police van after his arrest.

2.25pm - Donovan is "booked in" at Halifax police station.

A huge celebration begins in Dewsbury Moor. Leon Rose said being reunited with his daughter would be like "winning the lottery".

Monday March 17

West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison rebuffs criticisms that Shannon should have been found earlier and praises Det Con Kettlewell and Det Con Townsend.

Donovan is charged with kidnap and false imprisonment.

Tuesday March 18

Matthews is interviewed under caution by detectives and denies any involvement in her daughter's disappearance. She dismisses Donovan's accusations against her.

Donovan appears before magistrates in Dewsbury.

Wednesday March 19

Matthews holds a tree-planting ceremony in the garden at Moorside Road to celebrate Shannon being found.

Thursday March 20

Channel 4 broadcasts a documentary featuring five days in the lives of Matthews and Meehan while Shannon was missing.

Wednesday April 2

Meehan is charged with possessing indecent images of children and is later remanded in custody by magistrates.

Sunday April 6

Prison officials confirm Donovan tried to kill himself in Leeds Prison.

Matthews is arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice by Det Con Christine Freeman after Matthews admits she knew where Shannon was all along, during a car journey.

Tuesday April 8

Matthews is charged with perverting the course of justice and child neglect.

Wednesday April 9

Matthews makes her first court appearance at Dewsbury Magistrates' Court. After this she tells a security officer Shannon's disappearance was planned by Meehan and other members of his family.

Thursday April 17

Matthews is interviewed again by detectives. She produces a prepared statement in which she again blames Meehan for Shannon's disappearance.

Friday April 18

Meehan denies child pornography charges at Dewsbury Magistrates' Court.

Tuesday September 16

Meehan is found guilty of 11 counts of possessing indecent images of children. He is sentenced to 20 weeks in prison but is released because of the time he had already spent in jail on remand.

Tuesday November 11

A jury is sworn in to try Matthews and Donovan on charges of kidnap, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice.

Thursday November 13

Donovan is attacked by another inmate at Leeds Prison and suffers a fractured jaw.

Thursday December 4

Matthews and Donovan found guilty of all charges.

Friday December 5

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.

Monday January 5 2009

Meehan abandons an appeal against his conviction for downloading indecent images of children.

Friday January 23

Matthews and Donovan sentenced to eight years in prison each.

Wednesday June 16 2010

The serious case review into Shannon's involvement with social services and other agencies to be published.