05/10/2014 15:50 BST | Updated 06/10/2014 07:59 BST

'McCann Internet Troll' Brenda Leyland Found Dead In Leicestershire Hotel Room

UPDATE: Katie Hopkins Sets Off Firestorm With 'How Many More Must Die?' Tweet Aimed At McCanns

The pensioner unmasked as one of the 'online trolls' that targeted the parents of Madeleine McCann has been found dead in a hotel room.

Brenda Leyland, who last week was confronted by Sky News reporter Martin Brunt about her role in the campaign of abuse, was reportedly found by Police in a hotel in Enderby, Leicester on Saturday.

Brenda Leyland was confronted by Sky News

A police spokeswoman said: “Leicestershire Police were called at 1.42pm on Saturday 4 October to reports of a body of a woman in a hotel room in Smith Way, Grove Park. Officers have attended the scene and a file is being prepared for the coroner.”

The death is not being treated as suspicious.


The 63-year-old had been identified as one of the trolls behind a campaign of vitriol targeting the McCann family, whose daughter disappeared during a family holiday in Portugal in 2007.

Leyland was confronted by Brunt outside her house in Burton Overy, Leicestershire, but refused to answer questions about the abuse, beyond saying she was “entitled to do that”.

According to a local newspaper, Leyland fled the village following the exchange with Sky News.

More from the Press Association:

The father of Madeleine McCann called on Friday for an example to be made of ''vile'' internet trolls who have been targeting the family. Gerry McCann said he had ''grave concerns'' about letting his twins use the internet after threats of violence and kidnapping.

The comments, in an interview with the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, came after it emerged that police were looking at a dossier of abuse posted on Twitter, Facebook and chat forums. Mr McCann said he and wife Kate did not read such material because it was too ''upsetting''.

He also blamed the press for inciting trolls - renewing his calls for the new industry-backed regulator Ipso to be scrapped and replaced by an official body established by Royal Charter. ''I think some of the internet trolling is fuelled partly by the newspaper reporting. If it was more responsible I think we would have less of the former,'' Mr McCann said. ''Clearly something needs to be done about the abuse on the internet. "

He added: ''I think we probably need more people charged.''

Asked about the @sweepyface tweets (the handle used by Brenda Leyland), he said he had not read them. ''We do not have any significant presence on social media or online. And I've got grave concerns about our children as they grow up and start to access the internet in an unsupervised capacity.

''There have been other instances where people are threatening to kidnap our children. People are threatening violence against Kate and myself. Of course it's not just us - it is many other people who happen to fund themselves in rather tragic circumstances.

''I'm glad to see the law around this area is being reviewed. But I do think we need to make examples of people who are causing damage.''


If you've been affected by the issues in this article, please call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90.

Photo gallery McCann's outside court in Lisbon See Gallery