On 19 February 2008, Shannon Louise Matthews (born 9 September 1998), a nine-year-old girl, was reported missing in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, England. The search for her became a major missing person police operation which was compared to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Shannon was found alive and well on 14 March 2008 at a Batley Carr house belonging to 39-year-old Michael Donovan. Donovan is the uncle of Craig Meehan, the boyfriend of the kidnapped girl's mother, Karen Matthews.
The kidnapping was planned by Karen and Donovan to generate money from the publicity. Donovan—also known as Paul Drake—was to have eventually "found" Shannon, taken her to a police station and claimed the reward money, which would be split between Donovan and the child's mother. Donovan was charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment. Karen was charged with child neglect and perverting the course of justice on 8 April 2008. Their joint trial at Leeds Crown Court commenced on 11 November 2008 and concluded on 4 December with both defendants found guilty. They were both given eight-year prison sentences.
Meehan was convicted of possessing child pornography which was discovered on his computer during the investigation, but had nothing to do with the kidnapping.