The biggest story ever to happen on a news reporter’s patch has inspired him to write his first book.
Richard Edwards, who has been with the Yorkshire Evening Post for four-and-a-half-years, followed the story of missing schoolgirl Shannon Matthews from her disappearance through to her mother’s conviction.
It started with a routine call to the emergencies services which saw him head out to the Dewsbury estate where the then nine-year-old lived with her family last February.
He said: “You think, this might be serious but she will probably be home in a couple of hours. I had no idea it would spiral into the story it did.
“It’s three stories in one: a girl goes missing, later a girl is found safely and you think ‘What a wonderful, happy ending’ and then you discovered it had been planned all along.
“When that part started, I thought this is stranger than fiction. It has absolutely got to be told.”
Richard started penning his first book back in August, at which stage Shannon’s mother Karen at only been charged with child neglect and perverting the course of justice.
She was charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment two months later.
When the crown court trial started, Richard was in court every day to watch the remarkable tale unfold before his eyes.
The 33-year-old would then finished work, go home and start writing again, sometimes into the early hours, to finish his book as quickly as possible.
“It was pretty frantic for a month or so and I didn’t get a lot of sleep.
“When I sat down to start writing it, I didn’t have a publisher.
“A lot of first-time authors have to fight to get their book off the ground but fortunately I got the story that everyone was after.
“It’s the biggest story I’ve worked on and the story with the most shock value.”