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Brenda Leyland, The "Troll" Who Tormented The McCanns, Committed Suicide

An inquest in Leicester heard on Friday that the 63-year-old died from helium inhalation. The coroner is now calling for its sale to be regulated.

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Brenda Leyland, 63, from Leicestershire, was found dead in a hotel after a helium overdose, three days after being confronted by Sky News reporter Martin Brunt. It was Sky's investigation that discovered that Leyland had sent abusive messages to Gerry and Kate McCann using the Twitter handle @sweepyface.

The coroner, Catherine Mason, recorded a verdict of suicide. She also suggested that helium sales should be regulated.

Brunt challenged Leyland outside her house in September last year, but she refused to talk to him.

Brunt then told her that the Crown Prosecution Service was considering evidence that she may have sent malicious or offensive messages.

According to the BBC, Brunt told the inquest at Leicester Town Hall that he was "devastated" by the news of her death.

The inquest heard that Brunt phoned Leyland the day after their encounter, on 1 October, to tell her the footage would be broadcast. He said that during the conversation, she said: "I have been thinking about ending it all but I'm feeling better now."

Leyland was one of several Twitter users who had become obsessed with the McCanns and their ongoing campaign to find Madeleine, who went missing while the family were on holiday in Portugal in 2007.

Leyland sent more than 4,500 tweets in total, many of which concerned the day-to-day actions of the McCanns and her belief that they had hidden the truth about their daughter's disappearance.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this story, you can call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or visit

Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

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