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Cruel mum and paedophile ‘smitten like a pair of teenagers’

‘In love’: Plotter Karen Matthews

A WOMAN branded ‘Britain’s worst mother’, after abducting her own daughter in a plot to claim a reward, is marrying a paedophile convicted of having sex with a child.

Karen Matthews, who kept little Shannon prisoner for 24 days, has shown pals the ‘Princess Diana-style’ ring given to her by Paul Saunders.

He proposed at Christmas after a six-week courtship and the couple — dubbed Mr and Mrs Vile — are said to be besotted with each other.

But their engagement hit an early bump in the road yesterday when handyman Saunders, 57, was arrested.

He is suspected of breaking the terms of his release from jail. Thames Valley Police would not name him but confirmed last night: ‘A 57-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of a breach to his notification requirements. He has now been released under investigation.’

Mum-of-seven Matthews, 44, was freed after receiving an eight-year jail term for keeping Shannon, then nine, captive in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, in 2008. She met Saunders when he did odd jobs for her.

A source said: ‘Both of them have been walking around like teenagers. She is in love with him. He knows who she is but he can’t be bothered about her past.’ One friend revealed: ‘The ring is like Princess Diana’s design. She apparently bought it herself with money she saved.’

Matthews made a series of emotional TV appeals for the return of Shannon, who was being kept tethered and drugged under a bed at the home of her boyfriend’s uncle, Michael Donovan. The mum and Donovan hoped a reward would be offered and he could claim it by ‘finding’ the victim.

A £50,000 reward was duly put up but the plot was foiled. Shannon was rescued and brought up by a new family. Matthews has been given a new identity. Saunders was jailed for five years in 2010 after being caught when indecent images of his victim were found on his phone.

He abused the teenager over three years while working as an ambulance driver for mentally ill and disabled children. The victim said at the time: ‘I feel like dirt, he makes me sick, I want him to pay.’