Since Madeleine McCann’s disappearance in 2007, her family has weathered attacks of public opinion. The strange case left many blaming Madeleine’s mother, either of directly harming the child herself or of neglect that led to the abduction. Now, one person who made the accusations is dead.
As a result of some sides of public opinion, the McCann family has faced abuse on social media. Police have gathered a dossier of tweets, Facebook posts and other public messages against the family, with attacks against Kate and Gerry McCann, and even against Madeleine’s younger siblings.
On Thursday, Sky News reported on the matter, focusing to a large degree on one particular poster. On Twitter, it seems, the person who went by the screen name ‘@sweepyface’ apparently posted heavily. While the Twitter feed in question has since been deleted, the poster is alleged to have tweeted that the McCann family should suffer for the rest of their lives and to have maintained that she was ‘entitled to’ carry out her social media campaign against Madeleine McCann’s parents.
Allegedly, the poster in question was identified as Brenda Leyland, and according to the Mirror, she was found dead on Saturday in a hotel room in Leicester.
The Leicester Mercury reported on Friday that after being told she had been reported to police for abusive tweets, Leyland fled her home village. It seems the woman accused of internet attacks on Madeleine McCann’s family then hid away in a hotel room, where her death followed.
On social media, many assume that the death was a suicide, brought on by either guilt or fear resulting from her exposure in the McCann case, but police are saying that the death does not appear to be suspicious. Many are coming to her defense, saying that the woman did not stalk or threaten the McCann family and that she was persecuted for expressing an opinion.
The McCann family is even being blamed by some Twitter users.
Shocked & appalled to hear about sweepyface. How many more lives are both the media in this country & the Mccans going to ruin? Rip Brenda x
— ellie k (@ellsnffc) October 5, 2014
Supporters say that many of the tweets shared were not actually from Leyland and that she was unfairly portrayed.
Police are not confirming that the death was suicide, saying that identification of the body and cause of death will be left to the coroner. The parents of Madeleine McCann have not publicly responded to the incident.