Shannon Matthews: Paul Drake, Mick Donovan And Claiming The Reward
THE SUN: “Warped uncle took Shannon”
The man who named Shannon Matthews’ kidnapper Mick Donovan to police told last night how the weirdo bounced her on his knee at a funeral. Ryan Baynes told The Sun that the “oddball loner, had a reputation for ‘acting oddly’ around children”.
Says Ryan, “a tiler” from Dewsbury:
“Donovan behaved very strangely at that funeral. He was bouncing her up and down on his knee. Everyone at the funeral noticed it and thought it was far, far too close. Mick’s always been odd around kids. He really cracked up when his own kids were taken off him… I’m just glad she has been found alive and very glad I helped. Donovan is a very sick man to have done this. He’s a monster.”
Ryan called the police.
He says: “I was expecting a call back from the police to say they either arrested him or discounted him. But each time I called I was told it was being ‘looked into’. I even thought about taking a ladder down to Batley Carr, finding where Donovan lived and looking through the window of his flat to see if Shannon was there.”
Donovan is the brother of Alice Meehan, the mother of Craig Meehan — who is the partner of Shannon’s mum Karen Matthews.
Says Alice: “I can’t believe he had Shannon, my own brother. It feels like he has brought shame on our family. I have great mixed feelings because he is family and he’s done this.”
DAILY STAR: “SHANNON: ALIVE & WELL”
When detectives knocked on the door and got no reply, they smashed it down and discovered the missing girl hidden in the base of a double bed.
They asked her: “Where is the person who took you?” Shannon replied: “He’s in here.”
Detectives then found him lying in the same bed base, on the other side of a partition.
THE SCOTSMAN: “Schoolgirl found alive against all odds”
It began with a suspicious neighbour and the sound of a child in the flat above. The small home of pale brick in Lidgate Gardens contained a secret.
Didn’t it begin when Ryan Baynes told the police of Donovan?
The property where she was found, which had a small Pokémon toy in the window, was just a mile from the nine-year-old’s home and was understood to be on a police watch-list. When two detectives visited yesterday morning, they grew suspicious and questioned a downstairs neighbour, who told them of hearing a child’s footsteps in the property, which was not usual.
So it was routine police work that found Shannon?
DAILY EXPRESS: “SHANNON FOUND ALIVE IN MAN’S FLAT: KEPT HIDDEN UNDER BED”
Neighbours described Drake, who was arrested on suspicion of abduction, as a loner who had an obsession with washing his car. Mother-of-four Mandy Dixon said: “He is a weedy little man who nobody bothered with. He is obsessed with washing his car – he’s always out cleaning it, but he hasn’t been doing that for a couple of weeks. I didn’t give it much thought, to be honest.”
How was he discovered?
Detectives had all but given up hope of finding Shannon Matthews alive when she was discovered in what they thought was a routine door-to-door inquiry. Mother-of-eight Julie France said she had noticed the nine-year-old when she was driving near her home in Dewsbury, about a mile away from Shannon’s house, around the time she disappeared.
Mrs France, 45, said: “I remember seeing her pink Bratz boots and I could see her school uniform. It was about 4.15pm when I first saw her and then I spotted her again on her own 45 minutes later near the ginnel [alley] by my house. I remember she looked sad and lonely. I even stopped the car because she was on her own and thought about asking her if she was OK, but I decided not to and drove away.”
A couple of days later she heard on the news that a schoolgirl had disappeared from her area. She recognised the girl she had spotted in the pink Bratz boots as Shannon Matthews. But she couldn’t remember if she had spotted her before or after her disappearance.
“I’d only seen her for a few seconds both times. I had a mental block and thought my mind was playing tricks on me. I didn’t want to waste police time but I was so sure I’d seen her.
“I couldn’t let it drop and went to the police station a week after she disappeared.”
THE GUARDIAN: “After 24 days, the sound of footsteps then a policeman’s shout: ‘We’ve got her’”
There were no sightings of Shannon Matthews, no fingerprints to work on or images of suspects. In the end, it was the sound of small footsteps through a ceiling that led police to the missing nine-year-old girl, hidden in an upstairs flat overlooking the former textile mills of Batley Carr.
He added: “Basically I’m in the clear now – all my alibis were true. That Tuesday [when Shannon disappeared] I was in until the police officers came round. Then me, my brother-in law, my cousin and my mate went out searching. I live in this family – why would I want to do it for? I love Karen and I love the kids – everybody knows that. I know she’s my stepdaughter. But I always treated her like my own flesh and blood.”
THE INDEPENDENT: “The girl who came back from the dead”
Last night, a 39-year-old man was being held on suspicion of abduction. Neighbours named him as Michael Donovan, whois thought to be a distant relative of Shannon’s step-father and lived inthe flat raided in the Batley Carr area.”
The Sun says Donovan is Craig Meehan’s uncle. Not so distant.
Mr Donovan, a tall, thin man with black cropped hair, described by local people as a “loner”, is said to be distantly related to Shannon’s stepfather, Craig Meehan.
The reward for Shannon’s safe return was a paltry £50,500, £50,000 of which was put up by The Sun newspaper.
Paul Drake, 39, also known as Mick Donovan, is the uncle of Shannon’s stepfather Craig Meehan and lives only a mile from Shannon’s home. His sister, Alice Drake, 50, is Mr Meehan’s mother. Dewsbury-born Mr Drake claims disability allowance and, according to neighbours, spent much of his time washing his car, a silver Peugeot 406, or sitting in the vehicle late into the night…
The Daily Telegraph understands that Mr Drake saw Shannon at the funeral of her grandfather, Brian, in November. His brother-in-law, Danny Meehan, said: “My brother died from a heart attack in November time and there was a funeral up at Dewsbury Crematorium. I thought at the time there were too many children around. Shannon was there and Paul.
“I knew him when he was a kid and Brian got together with Shannon’s gran, Alice, but I’ve hardly seen him since at all.”
Mr Drake married Susan Bird in 1996 and the couple had two daughters, now aged 12 and 10. However, the couple separated and their children were taken into care. Mr Drake’s sister Alice said: “I have great mixed feelings because he is family. He lost his own children three years ago after a bitter split from his wife. He had custody of the kids but now he no longer sees them. This killed him. He was told he should never make contact with his children. I’m sure there is no way he would have hurt Shannon.”
Craig Meehan’s sister, Caroline, said: “When they said the address on the television we just knew it was him. We knew he was on the list for the police to go and see but they hadn’t been round before today.”
As he was dragged away from his home in handcuffs by three police officers, he was heard shouting: “I’m a poorly man, I should be taken to hospital. I am not well.”
Such are the facts.
Sandra Foster, who lives in the same street, said Mr Drake was small with a sharp nose.