KAREN MATTHEWS has reportedly turned to religion following her release from prison for faking her own daughter’s kidnapping.
The 41-year-old from Dewsbury Moor, who served half of an eight-year prison sentence, gained notoriety in 2008 when she conspired to kidnap her nine-year-old daughter Shannon and pocket the £50,000 reward.
She was dubbed ‘the most hated mum in Britain’ following the discovery of Shannon at the home of her then boyfriend’s uncle Michael Donovan after a 24-day, £3.2m search.
Reports in the national media this week claimed that Matthews had moved to the south of the country and had turned to God.
She reportedly told a friend: “When I left prison I picked up a bible and saw a passage about ‘God loves you’. I knew I was hated by everyone, cut off from my family ... but here they were, saying I was loved.
“I know I did something wrong but I’m not the bad person people are making out. I am sorry for hurting people. I’ve hurt my family. My friends who supported me at the time, I’ve hurt them. I love my mum and dad and I miss them. I would hate to lose them before I had the chance to say sorry.”
Matthews, who has a new name, told the friend that she has joined a bible group after she was cut off from her friends and family.
“I get to meet people and talk,” she said. “The people are kind and don’t judge. My favourite passages in the Bible are Matthew’s. They are the best because they are the same as my old surname.
“I asked for forgiveness through prayer when I first prayed for forgiveness. I knew I did something wrong. It lifted me.”
The much-derided mother has been out of work since her early release from prison and she admitted potential employers are put off by her criminal past.
National media reports stated that she hopes to land a job in catering.
“I would and I wouldn’t like a job,” she told a friend. “I’ve been to job interviews and they’ve turned me down when they see me.
“I need more confidence but I went to one interview and he just stared at me.”
Matthews is struggling to live on benefits. She said: “By the time I’ve put money towards running the flat and put £10 a fortnight on the electric and got myself a little bit of food, I have very little to live on.
“I’ve had to sell things. I haven’t even got any credit on my phone.”
Shannon Matthews disappeared on February 19, 2008, and a massive police hunt was launched in an attempt to find her.
But she was found alive on March 14 at Donovan’s flat in Batley Carr, where she had been drugged and held captive.
Karen Matthews still maintains her innocence, claiming she had arranged for Shannon to leave the home as part of her plan to leave her then boyfriend Craig Meehan.
Donovan was also jailed for eight years after he was found guilty of kidnap, false imprisonment and perverting the course of justice.