Shannon Matthews' kidnapper Michael Donovan dies from cancer

Shannon was found under a bed in Michael Donovan's home 28 days after she was reported missing Credit: PA

The man who was convicted of kidnapping schoolgirl Shannon Matthews has died from cancer.

Michael Donovan, who was 54, died at the Three Valleys Hospital in Steeton yesterday, 16 April.

Donovan hatched a fake kidnap plot with Shannon's mother, Karen Matthews, in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, in 2008 in a bid to claim £50,000 worth of reward money for the nine-year-old's safe return.

He held Shannon captive in his flat in a draw beneath a bed for 28 days.

Shannon was found at Michael Donovan's home 28 days after she was reported missing Credit: ITV News

Donovan had stayed at Three Valleys Hospital, which specialises in caring for people with complex mental health issues, for the last six years.

It is reported he had been diagnosed with stage three throat cancer in February and given months to live.

In a statement, West Yorkshire Police said: "Police were contacted on Tuesday, 16 April and made aware of the death of a man in hospital in the Steeton area.

"The death is not being treated as suspicious and enquiries will be conducted on behalf of the coroner."

The search for Shannon Matthews

Shannon was seen on CCTV leaving Dewsbury Sports Centre Credit: PA

Shannon was reported missing on 19 February 2008.

She had last been seen leaving Dewsbury Sports Centre after a school swimming trip.

In what became its biggest inquiry since the search for Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, West Yorkshire Police spent over £3m looking for her.

Shannon was found tied up and drugged in a draw underneath Donovan's bed on 14 March 2008. Donovan, Karen Matthews and her then boyfriend Craig Meehan were arrested in connection with the disappearance.

Donovan and Matthews were jailed for eight years for the kidnapping. He was released from prison in 2012 but had been cared for in hospital settings following his release.

Matthews was given a new identity on her release from prison and her daughter Shannon was granted lifelong anonymity.

In 2017 Shannon's grandparents criticised a TV drama about the hoax kidnap of the schoolgirl.

Actress Sheridan Smith starred as the mother who led the community search for the nine-year-old in The Moorside.

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