Mob must not rule

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As I speak, Karen Matthews, the most reviled mother in Britain, could well be lighting up the first fag of her new life in freedom.

Everything, from a new name to a new home, even the cigs, will have been provided for her by the State.

Apparently the ‘highest sources’ in the Home Office are overseeing her any-day-now release from prison because she is considered ‘a target’ by revenge-seekers disgusted by the woman who had her nine-year-old daughter Shannon drugged and kidnapped and then set out to play an entire nation for fools.

Though being given everything on a plate is only what she expects; after all, hadn’t the State always provided for her - and her seven children by five different fathers?

There are many who think assistance in creating a new start in life is a luxury Matthews doesn’t deserve.

That, after serving just half of her eight-year sentence for a crime that flew in the face of everything a mother should be, Karen should now be left to cope with the another justice and punishment she escaped only through imprisonment.

That of her neighbours, the people whose compassion she used and abused.

They are not so kind-hearted now; on Dewsbury Moor, they are saying Matthews would not survive the beating if she ever again dared to set foot in their midst again.

You will remember, as they do, that Shannon was snatched on her way home from school, drugged and held in a flat for 24 days. The aim was, apparently, that Matthews’ tearful TV appeals for help to find her missing daughter would elicit a cash reward, just as there had been for Madeleine McCann.

On the estate, people were swept into sympathy and support on the wave of Matthews’ crocodile tears. As we all were.

The search for Shannon cost £3.2 million. The biggest in the region since the that for the Yorkshire Ripper, 300 officers searched 2,000 homes. Police divers dredged ponds and rivers.

As days ticked by, the nation began to believe the worst. And then she was found, in the bottom drawer of a divan bed in a flat just a few miles away - where her mother knew she had been all along.

You can’t help but assume prison won’t have changed a woman so callous and calculating and believe that she doesn’t deserve a thing from anyone.

But society has to behave more humanely than women like her. So we can’t just turf her out onto the streets of Dewsbury and leave her to the mercy of those baying for her blood.

Though whether she will hide her face forever remains to be seen. There are plenty of trashy TV shows, Sunday papers and hag mags who will track her down and fight to pay for her inside story. The best way to show contempt for this woman is by refusing to buy them.

And though you don’t give a toss about Karen, you can’t help but wonder what happened to her sweet, freckle-faced daughter. Hopefully she’s settled in with loving foster-carers - and on her mother’s release, will be left in peace.

If anyone deserves a brand new life, it’s her.