Karen Matthews, 33, stood impassively in the dock as sentence was passed, with her accomplice, Shannon's stepuncle Michael Donovan. He was also sent to prison for eight years.
But Mr Justice McCombe signalled that the long and hugely publicised saga of Shannon's 24-day kidnap last year might not yet be over. He told Leeds crown court: "It must be doubtful whether Matthews and Donovan could have conceived or continued these offences without the assistance or connivance of others."
Matthews' long-standing friend Julie Bushby, chair of the tenants and residents' association on Moorside estate, Dewsbury, where the family lived, left the court saying: "There's no doubt about that in neighbours' minds. Other people were involved."
Detective Superintendent Andy Brennan, of West Yorkshire police, who headed the £3.2m inquiry which involved the questioning of most of Matthews' large extended family, said the case was closed. "We concluded there was not sufficient evidence to charge anybody else. But if new evidence comes to light, it will of course be investigated."
During mitigation pleas, Frances Oldham QC criticised Brennan's description of her client, Matthews, after her conviction last month as "pure evil". Oldham said it was part of a "demonisation" process which risked bracketing a stupid and inadequate mother with the likes of child murderers Myra Hindley and Rose West. Agreeing that jail for up to eight years would be appropriate, she suggested that the kidnap had been a ploy to help Matthews leave her abusive partner, Craig Meehan, that had spiralled out of control.
The judge agreed that the "evil" tag "was not a helpful comment" and criticised "hyperbole about this case in some quarters" but did not mince his own words when Matthews and Donovan stood to be sentenced.
As both stood as expressionless as they had during their five weeks in the dock before Christmas, he told them: "The offences you committed were truly despicable. It is impossible to conceive how you put this young girl through the ordeal that you inflicted on her.
"It is incomprehensible that you could have permitted your friends and neighbours and, in your case Matthews, even your children, to sacrifice time and energy in extensive searches for the supposedly missing child.
"It is also incomprehensible that you could stand by and watch enormous police resources being wasted. The cost to the public was £3.2m, and many well-intentioned people also provided free help and facilities."
The judge singled out for condemnation the dosing of nine-year-old Shannon with the adult sedative temazepam, not only during the kidnap but for up to two years previously at her home.
Saying the drugging was done "on a regular basis and as a matter of routine", he revealed that the schoolgirl continued to suffer from nightmares about being tied up, following her imprisonment in Donovan's flat, where a looped teather was found knotted to a beam.
"It was installed to allow her access to the lavatory but not to the doors or windows," he said. "Notwithstanding the absence of scientific evidence linking it to her, or either defendant, it is an unavoidable inference that it was used or intended to be used to restrain her."
He allowed publication of an extract from a local social worker's report that Shannon was "disturbed, traumatised and frightened" when taken into care after her release. The report continued: "She appeared to relive her experiences and often complains of having nightmares where she is tied up."
The judge told the court he found Matthews and Donovan equally culpable for the kidnap, which started on 19 February when Shannon was enticed into Donovan's car on her way home from a school swimming trip. It ended on 14 March when police called to interview Donovan as they worked through a long list of relatives. When he failed to answer, officers broke down the door and found him and a terrified Shannon hidden in a drawer beneath a bed.
Matthews was arrested three weeks later and subsequently gave five different stories to police, initially blaming Donovan and then other members of her family. She has seven children by four partners, and both she and Donovan come from large families, so the early stage of the police inquiry involved trying to untangle a complex web of relationships.
Matthews and Donovan were given concurrent six- and three-year terms for kidnap and false imprisonment, and two further years to run consecutively for perverting the course of justice. They will spend just over three years in jail, with half their sentences to be served on release under licence. Their terms include the eight and 10 months that they have respectively served on remand in custody. Neither is expected to appeal.
The judge included the Sun newspaper among the pair's victims as the plot developed into an attempt to defraud the paper of its £50,000 reward for information. He told the court: "I am sure the newspaper understands when I say that it was not so high on the list, but it was a victim of a planned fraud nonetheless."
An independent serious case review into previous social service dealings with Matthews and her family is due to report to Kirklees council, probably early this summer. On her arrest, Matthews cried out that she would "lose her babies" and all four children who were living with her and Meehan are now in care.
Meehan, a 25-year-old former supermarket fishmonger whose sister lived next door to the family, was convicted in September of downloading pornographic images of children. He was rehoused at an unidentified address for his own protection, because he had already served more than his 20-week sentence on remand.
Source: The Guardian
Not all scamsters who claim their child is abducted in order to raise lots of money go to jail though, "despicable and inconceivable" as it is.How do you feel, Kate and Gerry, knowing that Shannon was traumatised and taken into care after her mum copied your scam?
Shannon Matthews kidnap inspired by McCanns scheme
Other Karen Matthews articles