Madeleine McCann: Innocent Brenda Leyland was hounded to death by the Trollhunters
When Brenda Leyland was doorstepped by Sky News reporter Martin Brunt, she became the “McCann Troll”, the woman who under the name ‘sweepyface’ had bombarded Twitter with comments about the parents of missing Madeleine McCann.
No longer a real human being, Leyland was monstered by the media until she achieved the status of public enemy, awful enough to be branded a “hate-fuelled” (Times) “twisted, fecked-up bitch” (Daily Mirror). She was the eptiome of “sheer evil“.
We were left to wonder: who was hounding who?
Two days after being ‘exposed’ on the telly for our entertainment, Brenda Leyland was dead. The verdict: suicide.
At the coroner’s inquest at Leicester Town Hall, Martin Brunt says (via the Telegraph):
“At the end of the conversation she said it was a pleasure to meet you. I said I hoped I hadn’t ruined her day which I considered very much a throwaway remark. I was out of the country when I was told that Brenda Leyland had been found dead. I was devastated and I still am and the enormity of what’s happened will always be with me.”
Martin Brunt is a skilled reporter. It would be churlish not to take his upset as anything other than genuine. But his role as trollhunter-in-chief is regrettable. Swept along by a mob-fed eagerness to ‘unmask’ trolls and expose anyone saying nasty things to the glare of publicity and most excitedly court action, Brunt got his popular story.
And the self-righteous, narking trollhunters had another scalp.
“Mrs Leyland said she was concerned that the McCanns had left Madeleine and her siblings alone and that Twitter was a mean to express feelings and she hoped she had not done anything unlawful. She acknowledged that she was the holder of the @sweepyface account and said she would never tweet again.”
Mrs Leyland’s youngest son, Ben, addressed the court by letter:
“My mother had always struggled with depression and was prone to anxiety and physical health issues she had been told were effectively untreatable. There is no doubt in my mind that the Sky News interview was the final straw that pushed her to do what she did.”
Brenda Leyland was a soft target, a weak woman exposed publicly after an anonymous source had passed a dossier of alleged Twitter “trolls” to Brunt.
And the irony is in Detective Sergeant Steven Hutchings, from Leicestershire Police, saying that none of her tweets amounted to a criminal offence.
She called someone names and said nasty things to the few people fool enough to follow her on Twitter. And for that she became front-page news and the face of evil.
Coroner Catherine Mason concluded:
“I am satisfied that no one could have known what she was going to do and how she was going to do it. It’s quite clear to me that all preparation was done at her own hand and that there was no third party involvement.”
And the mob moves on…