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Who Is Michael Donovan? Sam Chapman Portrays Shannon Matthews' 'Kidnapper' In The Moorside

Shannon Matthews was found hidden in his flat.

14/02/2017 21:13

The second part of a controversial new BBC drama series about the hoax abduction of Shannon Matthews will air on Tuesday night.

The Moorside, named after the estate in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, where nine-year-old Shannon lived, focusses on the search for missing schoolgirl and the friendship between Karen Matthews and Bushby, who continued to stand by her throughout her trial.

Handout via Getty Images
Michael Donovan was arrested at the scene after Shannon Matthews was found in 2008

Shannon was reported missing on the evening of 19 February 2008 after she failed to return from a school swimming trip.

Hundreds of local volunteers, coordinated by Bushby, also took part in the search.

On 14 March - 24 days after she was reported missing - Shannon was found alive and hidden in the base of a divan bed at a house in Batley Carr, West Yorkshire.

West Yorkshire Police/PA Archive
The bed where Shannon was forced to hide in 2008
Elizabeth Cook/PA Archive
A court artists impression of Donovan in the dock at Dewsbury Magistrates Court in 2008
Michael Donovan, the uncle of Karen Matthews’ partner, Craig Meehan,
 
was
at the scene.

Along with Matthews, Donovan, played by Sam Chapman in The Moorside, went on trial, starting in September, and at the conclusion, both were found guilty of kidnapping, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice in December.

West Yorkshire Police/PA Archive
The inside of the flat of Michael Donovan, including the elastic strap Shannon was tied with

During the trial, details about Shannon’s miserable existence in Donovan’s flat for more than a month emerged.

An elastic strap that knotted round a loft beam within Donovan’s flat had been tied round Shannon Matthews’ waist to restrict her movements.

The court heard evidence from a forensic toxicologist that Shannon had been ingesting temazepam and travel sickness medication for a prolonged period. This suggested she was drugged.

A list of rules to adhere by was also found.

West Yorkshire Police/PA Archive
A list of rules found in the flat of Michael Donovan shown as evidence by the prosecution in the kidnap and false imprisonment trial of Shannon Matthews
WEST YORKSHIRE POLICE/PA ARCHIVE
Computer-generated images showing how far the strap Shannon was tied to would stretch

According to the Sun, Donovan was born Paul Drake, the youngest of nine children, and brought up on an estate in Dewsbury.

The Telegraph reported during the Shannon Matthews trial that Donovan’s own daughter had been taken into care following claims he made them watch him have sex with prostitutes.

He was also accused of kidnapping his own daughters, although the case was dropped.

West Yorkshire Police/PA Archive
Shannon Matthews (left) and her mother Karen

Donovan also had a number of run-ins with the law in earlier life, including a conviction at 16 for causing criminal damage.

According to the Telegraph, he suffered both physical and mental health issues, and was described as having half the average IQ.

Donovan was released from prison in March 2012.

Shannon, now 18 years of age, has been given a new identity and now lives with a new family.

The Moorside airs on 14 February on BBC One at 9pm.

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