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Well-spoken middle-class woman is unmasked as online troll who now faces arrest after sending hate messages to parents of Madeleine McCann



Original Source: Daily Mail Thursday 02 October 2014

By Stephen Wright for the Daily Mail and Harriet Arkell for MailOnline Published: 00:06, 2 October 2014 | Updated: 19:05, 2 October 2014


 ▪ Trolls wrongly believe McCanns were involved in daughter's disappearance

▪ They post abusive messages online directed at parents and their children

▪ One post said: 'These two should burn in hell'.. 'I'll supply lighter - happily'

▪ Majority of those posting messages use anonymous social media accounts

▪ One, tweeting as @sweepyface, has been identified as Brenda Leyland, 63

▪ She was found in the picturesque village of Burton Overy, Leicestershire

▪ When approached over her abusive comments, she said: 'I'm entitled to'

▪ Dossier of trolling calls on police and MPs to crack down on such vile abuse  


This middle class woman has been unveiled as one of the trolls accused of targeting vile internet abuse at Madeleine Mccann's parents.


Scotland Yard is currently investigating the posting online of hundreds of hate messages aimed at the McCanns, whose daughter disappeared during a family holiday to Portugal in 2007.


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.


And Brenda Leyland, 63, who has posted dozens of messages attacking the McCanns using the Twitter handle @sweepyface, has been identified as one of them.


Brenday Leyland, 63, , using the Twitter name @sweepyface, is one of the trolls targeting the McCann parents

The woman was tracked down to the picturesque village of Burton Overy in the Leicestershire countryside

VIDEO in link above


When Sky News' Martin Brunt tracked Mrs Leyland down to her house in the idyllic Leicestershire village of Burton Overy and confronted her, she remained defiant about what she had done.


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, Leicestershire, 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 4x4 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.


The messages were among those posted by internet trolls who wrongly believe 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'.


Troll: Mrs Leyland, 63, lives in Burton Overy, Leicestershire - the same country as Mr and Mrs McCann

These are some of the abusive messages, including one by @sweepyface, top right, directed at the McCanns


Some messages are even directed at Madeleine's younger twin siblings, now aged nine. According to Sky News, 'manipulated images' involving the McCanns – many of them graphic – are also in wide circulation online.


The majority of those who post the vile messages use anonymous social media accounts, so their true identities are disguised.


But detectives, who are now in talks with the Crown Prosecution Service after being handed a 65-page dossier on the campaign of abuse, are confident they can identify the culprits.


The dossier – compiled by members of the public who sympathise with the McCanns – calls on police and MPs to crack down on such abuse.


Under the 2003 Communications Act, it is an offence to send messages online that are grossly offensive.


Abuse: The messages have been posted by internet trolls who wrongly believe that Kate and Gerry had some involvement in the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine in Portugal in 2007


Among the messages in the dossier is an exchange on a message board which reads: 'These two should burn in hell'… 'I will supply the petrol'… 'I'll supply the lighter – happily'.


Other posts include: 'We need some numbers for some assassins' and 'I want to see them… trampled by horses.'


Also, several trolls claim to live near to the McCanns. One troll who claimed to live in their village posted: 'I'm going round with the cuffs and bags.'


Another troll who claimed to live locally said: 'Saw KM at the gym today, gave her a look of utter disgust, managed to hold my tongue though.'


The dossier's authors claim that at least six Twitter accounts have been set up principally to abuse the McCanns and their supporters.


The campaigner spearheading the appeal – who has asked to remain anonymous – told Sky News: 'We're very worried that it's only going to take somebody to act out some of these discussions, some of the threats, and we couldn't live with ourselves if that happened and we had done nothing.'


Former police chief and online child security expert Jim Gamble said: 'I'm deeply concerned by the behaviours displayed… I think the time has come for the hardcore few in the midst of this group to be investigated.'


A spokesman for Scotland Yard said today: 'We can confirm we have received a letter and documentation on 9 September which was passed to officers from Operation Grange [the police review into Madeleine's disappearance].


'They are assessing its contents and consulting with the CPS and the McCann family.'


Detective Inspector Michael Kilkenny of the Metropolitan Police told the campaign group: 'In consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service and the McCann family, the material will now be assessed and decisions made as to what further action, if any, should be undertaken.'


Last night the McCanns declined to comment.


Vile: Detectives have decided to act after being given a dossier which catalogues the abusive remarks – including death threats – aimed at the couple on Twitter, Facebook and online forums


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