A woman who was identified as one of the trolls accused of subjecting the parents of missing toddler Madeleine McCann to a campaign of internet abuse, has been found dead in a Leicestershire hotel.

Brenda Leyland, 63, had been found to have been behind a series of online hate messages aimed at the McCann's, whose daughter disappeared during a family holiday to Portugal in 2007.

As part of an investigation by Sky News, reporter Martin Brunt confronted the divorced mother at her home in Burton Overy, Leicestershire, after it was revealed that she had sent dozens of messages attacking the McCann's, using the Twitter handle @sweepyface.

When asked by the reporter why she had launched a hate campaign against the parents of the missing child, Leyland replied: "I'm entitled to do that."

Brunt revealed that he was invited into Leyland's house, where she told him she "had questions for the McCann's" but "hoped she hadn't broken the law" by posting the salacious tweets in which she cast aspersions on the McCann's marriage, adding that she "hoped they would suffer forever."

It was reported that after the interview, Leyland fled her Leicestershire home.

A neighbour told the Leicester Mercury: "Somebody took a photo of her on Thursday afternoon and then she was gone. I haven't seen her since. While I wouldn't condone what Brenda is accused of doing, I am worried for her safety now she has apparently fled the village."

Detectives have decided to take action after being given a dossier from McCann family supporters which catalogues the abusive remarks – including death threats aimed at the couple on Twitter, Facebook and online forums.

A Leicestershire Police spokeswoman confirmed the news of Leyland's death saying: "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.

"Identification of the deceased is a matter of the coroner. The death is not being treated as suspicious."

Yesterday her son Ben, who is believed to be living in Los Angeles, posted a brief tribute to his mother on Facebook.

He wrote: "I love you mum and I will miss you forever."

Scotland Yard is investigating the online posts of hate messages aimed at the McCann's who were told by trolls to "burn in hell".

The couple were cleared by police of any part in their daughter's disappearance,

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