It was a school morning, and for once Shannon Matthews had something to look forward to. Her fourth-year class had their first swimming lesson that day, and she had been looking forward to it for ages. Despite the freezing room, she crawled out and sleepily climbed down the ladder to get ready.
It didn’t take Shannon long to remember the argument she’d had with her mother Karen Matthews and her step dad Craig Meehan, the night before. They’d got into it, and Shannon had sworn at Craig.
That morning, Shannon got dressed in her Westmoor Junior School black jumper, white cotton t-shirt and black trousers. She pulled on her favourite rain boots, they were bright pink with grey fur around the edges. She picked up her swimming bag and a blue striped towel and then walked out of her room.
By the time Shannon was ready to leave at 8 am, her mother Karen was up, and the argument started up again. Karen shouted at Shannon as she left for school: “Get out of the house and don’t come back.”
School mornings were busy on the Moorside Council Estate in West Yorkshire, England, with many of the 220 estate homes having kids rushing out the door at 8 am. The temperature was barely over freezing as Shannon started her half mile walk to school. When she saw her cousins further down Moorside Road, she told them about what her mum had said when she was leaving. It was nothing new.
That morning would be the last time Shannon Mathews would ever walk out of her home on the Moorside Estate. It would be the last time she would ever attend Westmoor Junior, and it would be the last time that any of her friends saw her...
Our episodes deal with serious and often distressing incidents. If you feel at anytime you need support, please contact your local crisis centre. Some suggestions for confidential support for men women and children:
Lifeline Crisis Support: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: Depression and anxiety support: 1300 22 46 36
Rape & Domestic Violence Services: 1800 737 732
Men’s Line: 1300 78 99 78
Headspace: Youth Mental Health Foundation: see headspace.org.au for your local centre
Distress & Lifeline: 1800 273 8255
Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741 741
Domestic Violence Helpline: 1800 799 7233
Victim Connect: support for victims of crime: 855 484 2846