The People Stalking Our Children

As others have noted, there has not been the media publicity or the long list of celebrities queuing up to offer support for Shannon Matthews as there has been for more photogenic, middle class, children.

It is unusual in cases like this to have anything approaching a happy conclusion. Unfortunately, given the time period involved, it would not have been a surprise if a body had been found. I witnessed genuine relef and joy when the news interrupted Cheltenham.

Of course, this joy does not appear to be shared by some of the press. As Anton Vowl points out here, Melanie Phillips, (the last time I saw anyone who looked like that she had a house on top of her) in The Mail never fails to deliver her vile bilge. According to Mad Mel, Shannon is a victim of lifestyle choice', which in Melspeak means that she had a mother who had more than one sexual partner. And heaven forbid that a distant family member is a bit of a loner: that's obviously a case for sterilisation and having Social Services on BT Family and Friends.

The Mail has used this as an opportunity to bash the police, who are obviously more interested in harassing middle class motorists instead of tackling real crimes (as speeding, tax evasion and refusing to recycle are acceptable).

The police are understandably perturbed at the criticism. We do not know what happened, why it happened or what exactly happened in the poloice investigatuion. It's all supposition.

So step forward the doyen of Garage Doors and Awnings, John ' Shoot to Kill' Stalker, to offer his two-penneth worth of guesses.

Writing in the Sunday People, he says, "There is no doubt that from the beginning police strongly suspected that the answer to her disappearance lay within her family. "

It does not take Sherlock Holmes to deduce that in cases like this one, the perpetrator is often known to the victim, be it a family member or person in a position of trust. To read the Sunday papers though, one would be forgiven for thinking that there are stranger paedophiles lurking near every playground and school. An objection was recently raised to a hotel in Liverpool as it was near a school, and 'a paedophile could book in!'

John continues:

  • By all accounts Donovan is a scruffy loner, with his two children removed from him. He seems an obvious suspect and it is understandable that people are asking why it took 24 days for police to kick his door down.

I'll give John the benefit of the doubt here and assume he doesn't condone literally battering the door down without any real evidence. He just hides behind the 'other people might say that' device. Perhaps he just means the marksmen should aim at feet.

  • A clearer picture will soon emerge of what took place.

Good, John; let's just wait then? No?

  • What happened while Shannon was with Donovan? Did she go voluntarily? He was no stranger to her. Most importantly, was her divan drawer hiding place part of a game to keep her away from others she wished to escape from?

Because waiting would prevent idle speculation and leave pages to fill with news. As Anton Vowl also blogs, nobody cares about the effect of such speculation. The Mail is not alone in referring to the police 'now fearing the worst' about the 'ordeal'. No need for an investigation, trial or facts. Just get people to read between the lines. Then, if legal proceedings do take place, hide behind reporting restrictions whilst covertly adding to their portfolio of smears and intrusion, ready for publication upon receipt of a guilty verdict.

  • Police must seriously examine whether family connivance may be a feature. Large cash rewards are often available for the return of a missing child, such as in the Madeleine McCann inquiry. In Shannon's case, the money on offer will undoubtedly have tempted some to make fraudulent claims. A shrewd investigator will know that.

This is the crux of John's surmising and gives lead to the bold headline which was splashed across paper copies of this rag. And where do a lot of these rewards come from? Yes, tabloid red-tops like the one rewarding Stalker for this unnecessary and intrusive copy. He even ends the piece with this startling piece of hypocrisy:

  • Whether the police could or should have acted sooner will be up for discussion after any criminal trial, if it goes that far. For the moment we should be quietly delighted that a vulnerable child who many, including me, thought was dead is today safe.

That explains a lot, John. Enjoy your rentaquote reward.