Such a pity that missing Madeleine McCann, did not have the wonderful British police at her disposal, to search for her - it is both heart warming for Shannon, now found and heartbreaking for Madeleine - still missing.
The contrast between the efficiency of the British police and the Portuguese Policia Judiciaria could not be more stark.
Where the Portuguese police refused to believe that 4 year old Madeleine had been abducted and after an initial disorganised search of holiday makers and residents into the early hours of May 4th, the Portuguese police went home and left Madeleine's parents to get on with things on their own until they came back later.
When Shannon Matthews went missing and was still missing despite a huge search lasting into the early hours of February 20th, at 2am, police searching for 9 year old Shannon cranked up their search!
And so the littany of errors was started by the Portuguese police and which have dogged the investigation ever since.
- Errors ranging from failure to seal a crime scene
- Allowing the contamination of a crime scene
- Not notifying borders and ports
- Failing to carry out road block checks with due dilligence
- There was no lockdown1 LOCAL police failed to "lock down" and seal off the Mark Warner Ocean Club resort immediately after Madeleine was reported missing
- They did not set up roadblocks
- House to house2 COPS' failure to accept they had an abduction on their hands meant they did not launch an immediate search of nearby holiday flats and villas or question locals.
- House-to-house enquiries started two days later and most of the 500 properties were not visited until after any kidnapper had been given ample time to flee.
- BORDER officials should have been told of Maddie's disappearance without delay.
- But police only alerted staff at the border 12 hours later.
- COASTGUARDS and maritime police were not alerted for 14 hours.
- Description THE first police appeal for a suspect did not come until 22 days after Maddie vanished
- At one stage police were showing six different E-fit images to local people and one artist's impression was a simple outline said to be "like an egg with hair on.
- Cuddle Cat should have been sealed in a plastic bag then tested.The most minute drop of sweat or a single skin cell could have revealed the DNA of Madeleine's kidnapper.
- Searches A MASSIVE search party should have been organised by police at first light the morning after Maddie disappeared.
- Instead just 150 police took part in the first searches and they were poorly organised and random.
- A FULL list of other guests at the Ocean Club resort ought to have been compiled by police with the help of staff within hours of the tot's disappearance. But they did not get the information until almost 48 hours later - and a day AFTER many potential witnesses had returned home at the end of their holidays.
- Holiday Staff were only quizzed 60 hours later
- A DIRECT appeal to the abductor is usually considered vital in the first hours of a kidnapping. Police seek advice from psychologists to carefully word any plea. But it was Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate who made the public appeal themselves.
- There was not even a Portuguese police officer at the couple's press conference.
- DETECTIVES revealed on June 1 that they had found the DNA of a stranger in the McCanns' apartment.But they could not check if it was from a known paedophile as Portugal does not have a computerised DNA database of perverts.
- The DNA did not match the profile of suspect Robert Murat.
- THE area immediately surrounding the McCanns' holiday apartment was never properly sealed off by police - even though vital clues are often discovered at such a scene.
- People were allowed to walk on the flat's front porch 24 hours after Maddie disappeared. There were no fingertip searches and police sniffer dogs were not brought in until large crowds had gathered in the area, confusing any valuable scent. Specialist sniffer dogs and ultra-violet lights were not used.
- Staggeringly, police gave the go-ahead for the flat to be occupied again although enquiries were continuing.And by the time the British team checked the apartment it had already been thoroughly cleaned.
- DETAILS of the pyjamas Maddie was wearing should have been released straight away.Anyone who saw her would probably have recalled the distinctive pink Eeyore nightwear.
- But officers repeatedly refused to issue a description and it was left to her parents to give details an astonishing four days later.
- CCTV IMAGES from CCTV cameras on the main A22 motorway leading out of Praia da Luz towards Spain were not checked.
- SUSPECT Portuguese police bungled their search of Murat's garden.They did not clear bushes and shrubs - British officers later ordered gardeners to hack away the undergrowth.They then made a thorough search and inserted probes into the ground to seek any trace of human remains.
- Portuguese officers also searched a guest house run by Murat's aunt in nearby Burgao.They hacked at the concrete-hard ground with picks until it dawned on them that the area had not been disturbed in years.
After disappearing 24 days ago, Shannon Matthews was found in the base of a bed in the home of Paul Drake
When officers arrived at No 26 Lidgate Gardens shortly before midday yesterday, it was initially just another door-knock in their painstaking search for Shannon Matthews.
The resident, the uncle of Shannon’s stepfather, and part of the door-to-door trawl of anyone who might be known to the girl, appeared not to be at home.
They tried a downstairs flat, where a conversation with a neighbour provided the sudden breakthrough for which the Matthews family, their friends and the police force had been praying for three weeks.
Although Paul Drake, the resident, lived alone in the property in Batley Carr, the sound of a child’s footsteps had been heard lately.
Officers were told that Mr Drake, also known as Mick Donovan, never left the premises without his car, about which he was obsessive. They were led to believe that Mr Drake was still in the flat because his prized silver Peugot was parked in the street outside.
The two police officers decided that they were dealing with more than a routine visit. Keeping an observation on the property, the officers called for an emergency back-up team. A battering ram was used to break down the door and officers burst into the house.
They immediately searched from room to room, and after hearing noises, uncovered Shannon, hidden within the base of a double divan bed. Alongside Shannon, in the other half of the cavity, was Mr Drake. The 24-day search was over.
Neighbours described how Shannon appeared calm as she was carried from the scene, with no apparent sign of injury. Then Paul Drake emerged, dragged out in handcuffs to awaiting back-up officers and a volley of pent-up anger from local residents.
As word got out into the community, Karen Matthews, Shannon’s mother, was told of her daughter’s safe recovery by a neighbour, Peter Brown, a short time after.
“She just froze. She was in shock. Then her reaction was crying,” said Mr Brown. “After that, she had a phone call from the police liaison officer. They came to pick her up. Karen and Craig (Shannon's stepfather) both left the house together. We are going to have a party tonight.”
Shannon disappeared 24 days ago after returning to Westmoor Primary School in Dewsbury from a swimming trip. It led to one of the largest investigations mounted by the West Yorkshire force, involving up to 300 detectives, more than a tenth of the force’s strength.
Amanda Hyett, Shannon’s aunt, sobbed as she said:
“I am so pleased she has been found. We just need her home now. I just want to say thank you to everyone that helped.”
Ms Hyett was with Shannon’s mother and stepfather when the news came through that the girl had been found safe and well. “We were all howling on the stairs with complete joy,” she said.
It is understood that Mr Drake — said to be the brother of Craig Meehan’s mother, Alice Meehan — has two daughters aged 10 and 12 who were taken into care some years ago. Alice Meehan, 49, last night revealed that he was arrested in 2004 when he took his oldest daughter from school. She said Mr Drake lost his own children three years ago after a split from his wife.
“I can’t believe he had Shannon, my own brother, it feels like he has brought shame on our family. I’m sure there’s no way he would have hurt her. He was missing his kids.”
She said Mr Drake had custody of his children but was eventually deemed unfit and no longer saw them: “This killed him.”
As news spread of the nine-year-old’s safe return, people emerged on to the streets of Dewsbury and Batley to celebrate, with lager and wine.
Mandy Dixon, 37, described how police descended on Lidgate Gardens. Officers battered their way through the blue door opening on to stairs up to the maisonette flat. A plainclothes officer brought Shannon out first.
She said: “A neighbour shouted out, ‘Is that Shannon?’ and they said, ‘Yes, it is’. I could not see Shannon’s face, she was covered up. She was clinging to the officer for dear life.”
Another neighbour, David Hughes, 46, a former soldier, whose flat overlooks the suspect’s home, said:
“They busted in the door at about 1.30pm and later they dragged him out. He was cuffed to two police officers. They ordered him to obey their commands but he refused, curling his legs underneath him as if he did not want to go. He was crying and whingeing.
“Shannon came out with two police officers. She looked OK. I would say quite calm. She was dressed in a dark blue jacket and trousers.
“I could see it was Shannon. This episode has left us all so incredibly happy that she is going home alive and well.”
Residents on the estate expressed astonishment that they could have been living so close to the missing girl for so long. One said: “It is so shocking that she could have been such a short distance away for the last three weeks without us knowing. There has been no sight or sound of this little girl.”
People in the estate, which is mixed between Asian and white working class, spoke of a loner who hardly ever emerged from the flat.
Ashraf Dadhiwak, a newsagent, 51, said: “I have not seen him for a year. He is a loner who used to come into the shop with his two daughters. He did not look as if he was all there, if you know what I mean. He looked ill to me, certainly not healthy, and had the appearance of someone frightened of something.”
A resident, who did not want to be named, said the daughters were taken into care when his wife was unwell and he couldn’t look after them. “I thought he had left the area but maybe he came back recently. A neighbour came to tell me there were police in the street and said the woman in the flat downstairs had called the police. Apparently she heard a child’s footsteps and knew he did not have any children so she was suspicious.”
Last night a large area of the estate surrounded by a grassy knoll was cordoned off by scenes-of-crime tape.
A yellow telephone directory lay unrecovered on the porch and shabby curtains in the upstairs windows had a pattern with the words “biker boy”.
Inside, forensic science experts began their painstaking work, which will continue this morning.
A statement from West Yorkshire Police said: “As part of ongoing investigations, detectives and specialist search officers attended a house at Lidgate Gardens, Batley Carr, Dewsbury, at 12.30pm this afternoon.
During a search of the house, officers located Shannon Matthews who was found concealed in the base of a divan bed. A 39-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of abduction at the address and is currently in custody at a West Yorkshire police station. Shannon is currently in the care of West Yorkshire Police.”