THE mother of Dewsbury kidnap hoax victim Shannon Matthews revealed today she has prayed for forgiveness, according to reports.
Karen Matthews became notorious in 2008 after her daughter, Shannon, disappeared from their home in the West Yorkshire town, only to turn up 24 days later, hidden in her stepfather’s uncle’s home, less than a mile away.
Matthews and Michael Donovan were jailed after a court heard that they planned the whole disappearance in an attempt to claim a cash reward.
The 41-year-old now says she has has turned to religion.
A friend told the Daily Mirror that Matthews said: “I know I did something wrong but I’m not the baddest person people are making out.”
She said a Bible group is helping her and she prays every day.
Matthews said through her friend: “I asked for forgiveness through prayer when I first prayed for forgiveness. I knew I did something wrong.”
But the paper said she continues to deny that she abducted her own daughter.
Matthews was released from prison in 2012, halfway through her sentence. Since then she has struggled to find work and lives on benefits, according to the paper.
The dramatic events surrounding the disappearance of Shannon, who turned 18 this year, is likely to be dragged back into the spotlight in the new year with the release of a BBC TV film about the saga.
The Moorside Project will feature Game Of Thrones star Gemma Whelan as Matthews and will focus on her friend, Julie Bushby, played by Sheridan Smith, who led the community’s search for Shannon.
Shannon was found in Donovan’s flat in Lidgate Gardens, Batley Carr, West Yorkshire, in the base of a divan bed.
The youngster had been drugged and forced to adhere to a strict list of rules while held captive.
Prosecutors said Donovan kept Shannon imprisoned as part of a plan he and Matthews hatched to claim a £50,000 reward offered by a national newspaper.
The court was told the ordeal left Shannon “disturbed and traumatised” and suffering from nightmares.
The officer who led the inquiry, Detective Superintendent Andy Brennan, said at the time of her conviction that Matthews had “totally betrayed” her daughter, and condemned her as “pure evil”.
In 2010, a serious case review into Shannon’s case concluded that her abduction could not have been foreseen by social services and other agencies involved with her family.