Brenda Leyland had tweeted under the
A Leicester coroner has concluded a
woman found dead days after she featured
in a Sky News report into online
trolling took her own life.
Brenda Leyland was found dead in a
Leicester hotel room in October 2014.
An inquest into her death at Leicester's
Coroners Court heard witness testimony
from a toxicologist, two police
officers, Mrs Leyland's former
psychiatrist and two Sky News employees.
A written statement from Mrs Leyland's
youngest son, Benjamin, was read to the
He said: "I have no doubt in my mind
that the panic and fear that I heard in
her voice after the Sky News interview
was the final straw that pushed my mum
to do what she did.
"She was broken, destroyed."
Mr Leyland, who lives in America,
described his mother as a woman who
"felt it hard to connect with people".
He wrote: "She struggled with
depression. She had undergone
psychiatric treatment and medicated for
anxiety. The court was also told that
there had been a previous suicide
Sky News' Crime Correspondent Martin
Brunt, who challenged Brenda Leyland
about her alleged online trolling in a
report for the channel, said he had
talked to Mrs Leyland on the telephone
after the report was televised.
He said: "I asked her how she was and
she said 'Oh, I had thought about ending
it all but I'm feeling better, I've had
a drink I've spoken to my son who has
told me I've been a silly, stupid
Mr Brunt was asked by Coroner Catherine
Mason if he thought it was a throwaway
He replied: "Yes".
Detective Sergeant Steven Hutchings told
the court that Mrs Leyland had posted
more than 2,000 tweets under the name
Of these, 424 mentioned Gerry and Kate
McCann. The couple's three-year-old
daughter Madeleine was taken from the
family's Portugal holiday apartment in
In recording a verdict of suicide, the
coroner said: "I'm satisfied although
Mrs Leyland had a mental health history,
that others would not necessarily have
known that she was suffering from mental
"She had mentioned wanting to take her
own life but then dismissed it. I don't
think it could have been known to
anybody that there was a definite
intention for her to take her own life."
A Sky News statement issued after the
coroner's verdict said the broadcaster
was confident that no editorial
guidelines were breached.
"The team at Sky News followed its
editorial guidelines and pursued a story
in a responsible manner that we believed
was firmly in the public interest," the
"Brenda Leyland's tragic death
highlights the unforeseeable human
impact that the stories we pursue can
have, and Sky News would like to extend
its sincere condolences to her family."