herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

Madeleine 'troll' found dead after TV expose

A woman who was accused of sending internet abuse to the parents of missing girl Madeleine McCann has been found dead in a hotel room. Her death has revived debate about media responsibility and how best to respond to online 'trolls'.

Sky News identified 63-year-old Brenda Leyland as a Twitter user who had attacked Kate and Gerry McCann under the name 'sweepyface'. Last week a Sky News reporter confronted Leyland on camera.

Leicestershire Police said the body of a 63-year-old woman was found in a hotel in Leicester, central England, on Saturday. The force said the death is not being treated as suspicious.

threats

Sky News said it was saddened by Leyland's death.

Madeleine disappeared from a Portuguese vacation resort in May 2007. The still-unsolved disappearance sparked intense media interest around the world.

Last week, police said they were examining a dossier of material about the McCanns from social media and online forums.

On Friday, Gerry McCann said the family had been subjected to threats of violence and kidnapping.

"I think we probably need more people charged," he told the BBC. "I'm glad to see the law around this area is being reviewed. But I do think we need to make examples of people."

hnews@herald.ie

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