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Alleged McCann Troll's Death Was Suicide



Original Source: sky Friday 20 March 2015
By Ashish Joshi, Sky News Correspondent 14:44, UK, Friday 20March 2015
Part in red italics now updated to 
Mrs Leyland on the telephone after approaching her but before the report had been broadcast."

Brenda Leyland had tweeted under the name Sweepyface


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 court.


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 attempt."


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 woman."


Mr Brunt was asked by Coroner Catherine Mason if he thought it was a throwaway line. 

He replied: "Yes". 

Detective Sergeant Steven Hutchings told the court that Mrs Leyland had posted more than 2,000 tweets under the name Sweepyface.


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 2007.


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 health (problems).


"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 statement said.


"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."


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