Karen Matthews 'playing to the court'

The mother of Shannon Matthews sobbed as she took the witness stand yesterday, saying she was "disgusted" at allegations she had anything to do with her daughter's disappearance.

Karen Matthews, 33, rejected claims she was an "accomplished liar" as she wiped tears from her eyes. She repeatedly denied drugging or hiding the nine-year-old in order to claim a £50,000 reward for her safe return.

She told Leeds Crown Court that she loved her children but was the victim of an abusive relationship with her live-in partner Craig Meehan. She is accused, with Mr Meehan's uncle Michael Donovan, of falsely imprisoning Shannon and perverting the course of justice. Both deny the charges.

She said she had lied to police during an interview in which she told detectives she never considered leaving Mr Meehan, claiming he had sought to persuade her to take the blame for Shannon's 24-day disappearance.

But in cross-examination, Alan Conrad QC, for Mr Donovan, accused Ms Matthews of play-acting, "Just as it was a staged performance during the three-and-a-half weeks your daughter was missing. You can play for the cameras and play for the court, can't you?"

Before her client took the stand, Mrs Oldham warned the jury that Ms Matthews had been "demonised". Urging them to base their judgment on the facts of the case before them, "not just smear, not just injustice, not just prejudice". She added: "The media has decided that Karen Matthews is guilty, the police have decided that Karen Matthews is guilty.

"It would be easy to approach Karen Matthews' evidence on the basis she's a liar. She has been demonised in the media and you could be forgiven for expecting the worst from her."

The case continues.

Source: The Independent
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