UK

Madeleine McCann Disappearance: Trolls Of Gerry And Kate Face Police Investigation

02/10/2014 07:55 BST | Updated 02/10/2014 11:00 BST

A dossier of appalling online abuse directed at the parents of Madeleine McCann is being examined by police.

Members of the public have handed a file stretching to more than 80 pages of Tweets, Facebook posts and forum messages aimed at Kate and Gerry McCann to Scotland Yard, according to Sky News.

The material posted by online trolls is said to have included suggestions that the couple should be tortured or killed.

One message board comment reportedly said: "These 2 should burn in hell."

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Police are considering more than 80 pages of abusive messages about the McCanns

Sky News said other posts in the dossier included:"I hope that the McCanns are living in total misery" and "I want to see them smashed up the back of a bus or trampled by horses".

On one message board, people wrote: "These 2 should burn in hell"; "I will supply the petrol"; "I'll supply the lighter - happily".

Some messages were said to have been directed at Madeleine's younger siblings, now aged nine.

The posts were gathered by people who are concerned about the abuse.

One campaigner, who did not wish to be named, told Sky News: "We're very worried that it's only going to take somebody to act out of some of these discussions, some of the threats that have been made, and we couldn't live with ourselves if that happened and we had done nothing."

The material is being assessed by officers who are liaising with prosecutors and the missing girl's family.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "We can confirm we received a letter and documentation on September 9 which was passed to officers from Operation Grange. They are assessing its contents and consulting with the CPS and the McCann family."

MADDIE MCCANN:

Anthony Summers, author of the book Looking for Madeleine, told Sky News: "There is a campaign of hatred against the parents.

"It is venomous and vitriolic, most of it done by cowards. We are taken aback by the extent of the sheer evil behind it all."

Sky News confronted one of the alleged anonymous tweeters in her sleepy village - a well-spoken woman who, as "Sweepyface", called for the McCanns to suffer "for the rest of their miserable lives".

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'Sweepyface'

She repeatedly insists that can't speak because she's "going out with a friend", though she did later speak to them off-camera in her home, saying she hoped she had not broken any law.

Operation Grange is the name for the Metropolitan Police's involvement in the search for Madeleine.

She went missing in Portugal when aged three in May 2007.

Trolling is a mounting problem for the authorities. Last year Scotland Yard said around 1,500 additional crimes linked to internet abuse were being reported to the force each year.