Internet troll who targeted McCanns found dead in hotel room days after fleeing home when she was revealed to be behind online campaign of vitriol, reports the Mail Online
- Brenda Leyland, 63, was found dead in Leicestershire hotel room
- She was one of the trolls accused of targeting internet abuse at McCanns
- Mrs Leyland was tracked down by Sky News to her home in Burton Overy
- The divorcee reportedly fled her home day after the encounter was aired
- Trolls claim that the McCanns were involved in daughter’s disappearance
- Majority of those posting messages use anonymous social media accounts
The woman who was this week unveiled as one of the trolls accused of targeting internet abuse at Madeleine McCann’s parents has been found dead in a Leicestershire hotel.
Brenda Leyland, 63, was identified as one of the people posting online hate messages aimed at the McCanns, whose daughter disappeared during a family holiday to Portugal in 2007.
Leicestershire Police were called to a hotel in Enderby, Leicester yesterday – roughly 15 miles from Mrs Leyland’s home. A spokeswoman said the death was not being treated as suspicious.
The incident comes just days after she was exposed by Sky News reporter Martin Brunt as being one of the people behind an online campaign of vitriol.
The church-going mother was tracked down to her house in Burton Overy, Leicestershire by the crime correspondent and confronted about her online activities.
It was revealed that, using the Twitter handle @sweepyface, the divorcee had posted dozens of messages attacking the family.
Footage of the encounter was aired on Wednesday. The following day, it was reported that Mrs Leyland, who continued to use her married name, had fled her Leicestershire home.
When asked why she was using her Twitter account to attack the McCanns, who live with their younger children, nine-year-old twins, in Rothley, just 15 miles away, Mrs Leyland replied: ‘I’m entitled to do that.’
And when Mr Brunt told her that she had been reported to police, and that Scotland Yard was considering a dossier of Twitter accounts said to show a ‘campaign of abuse’ against the McCanns, she paused as she got into a 4×4 and replied: ‘That’s fair enough.’
The crime correspondent said he was later invited into Mrs Leyland’s house, where she told him she ‘had questions for the McCanns’ but ‘hoped she hadn’t broken the law’ by posting tweets in which she spread rumours about the McCanns’ marriage, and said she hoped they would suffer for ever.
According to the Leicester Mercury, a neighbour of Mrs Leyland, said that she had ‘fled the village’ following the encounter with the crime correspondent.
The resident, who would rather not be named said: ‘Somebody took a photo of her on Thursday afternoon and then she was gone. I haven’t seen her since.’
Another said: ‘While I wouldn’t condone what Brenda is accused of doing, I am worried for her safety now she has apparently fled the village.’
Yesterday her son Ben, who is believed to be living in Los Angeles, posted a brief tribute to his mother on Facebook.
He wrote: ‘I love you mum and I will miss you forever’. His friends then began passing on their condolences on the site.
A Leicestershire Police spokeswoman said: ‘Police were called at 1.42pm on Saturday 4 October to reports of a body of a woman in a hotel room in Smith Way, Grove Park.
‘Officers have attended the scene and a file is being prepared for the coroner.
‘Identification of the deceased is a matter of the coroner. The death is not being treateed as suspicious.’ She said the police were unable to comment any further.
The revelation that Mrs Leyland was involved in the online campaign was covered this week by the Times, the Daily Mirror and the Daily Telegraph.
The messages from Mrs Leyland’s account were among those posted by internet trolls who claim that Kate and Gerry, both 46, had some involvement in the disappearance of their three-year-old daughter Madeleine in Portugal in 2007.
The couple, who were cleared by police from any part in their daughter’s disappearance, have been told by trolls to ‘burn in hell’.
Scotland Yard is currently investigating the posting online of hundreds of hate messages aimed at the McCanns.
Detectives have decided to act after being given a dossier from McCann family supporters which catalogues the abusive remarks – including death threats – aimed at the couple on Twitter, Facebook and online forums.
Article from the Mail Online