Shannon Matthews' kidnapper Michael Donovan 'dies of cancer' 16 years after hiding schoolgirl in his bed for 3 weeks

17 April 2024, 13:39 | Updated: 17 April 2024, 15:54

Mick Donovan kidnapped Shannon Matthews over 15 years ago
Mick Donovan kidnapped Shannon Matthews over 15 years ago. Picture: Getty/West Yorkshire Police

By Kit Heren

Shannon Matthews' kidnapper has died, 16 years after he plotted with her mother to hide the schoolgirl in his bed.

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Michael Donovan, 54, helped drug and hide Shannon, 9, in the base of a divan bed in his Dewsbury flat for 24 days in 2008, after conspiring with Karen Matthews to collect money for finding her.

Her disappearance sparked a huge search, with hundreds of police and volunteers looking for Shannon while she was hidden.

Matthews had planned the crime with Donovan, her ex-boyfriend's uncle, to try and claim a £50,000 reward for "finding" her.

Shannon was eventually found after a relative told police that they should go to see Donovan.

Read more: Family of Shannon Matthews' sick kidnapper 'warned police to go to his house on day one of search'

Read more: 'Britain's worst mum' Karen Matthews 'dumps paedo fiancé' one week after engagement

Shannon Matthews
Shannon Matthews. Picture: Getty

She was found in the drawer of the council flat bed, and Donovan, the uncle of Matthews' boyfriend Craig Meehan, was in another drawer.

Donovan has now died at the Three Valleys Hospital in Keighley in West Yorkshire, after being diagnosed with cancer, the Sun reported.

Mick Donovan
Mick Donovan. Picture: Getty

He had been diagnosed with Stage 3 throat cancer in February, and was given only a few months to live. Doctors only found the tumour after he went for a routine check-up.

Donovan had been held in Three Valleys Hospital, a secure mental health facility, since his release from prison in 2012 over his role in the kidnapping.

Karen Matthews after Shannon was found
Karen Matthews after Shannon was found. Picture: Getty

A source told the paper that Donovan "would not be missed" at Three Valleys Hospital.

They said: "Nobody really liked him - he was a very unpleasant bloke.

"He kept to himself but he had a horrible temper if he wasn't happy with something - usually the food.

"He liked his cheese sandwiches and that was about it."

Shannno Matthews on being arrested
Shannno Matthews on being arrested. Picture: Getty

Donovan and Matthews, labelled Britain's worst mum, were found guilty of kidnap, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice.

Both were jailed for eight years, but were released in 2012 after serving half their sentences.

The boarded up home of nine-year-old kidnap victim Shannon Matthews after her mother was found guilty
The boarded up home of nine-year-old kidnap victim Shannon Matthews after her mother was found guilty. Picture: Getty

A spokesperson for Elysium Healthcare, which runs Three Valleys Hospital, declined to comment.

After her ordeal, Shannon suffered from nightmares and needed counselling.

She was subsequently settled with a new family under a foster identity.