Britain’s Metropolitan police are examining an 80-page dossier of abusive messages sent in the last few years to Gerry and Kate McCann.
Internet “trolls”, people who post inflammatory or disruptive messages online, have wished them ill in Tweets, Facebook posts, and other online fora. Most of the armchair detectives have chosen anonymity.
The investigation could lead to prosecutions, and officers are in talks with the Crown Prosecution Service.
Members of the public, who believe the McCanns be not be victimised in this manner, put the dossier together. They called on prosecutors to use the Malicious Communications Act of 2003 which bans threats of violence online.
Among the messages are suggestions that Madeleine’s parents should be tortured, suffer for the rest of “their miserable lives”, be killed and burn in hell.
One such: “These 2 should burn in hell”; “I will supply the petrol”; “I’ll supply the lighter – happily”.
Other abusive messages have included “I hope the McCanns are living in total misery,” and “I want to see them smashed up the back of a bus or trampled by horses”.
Manipulated images depict the McCanns behind bars or surrounded by piles of cash.
It is believed that other abuse has been directed at Madeleine’s nine-year-old twin siblings.
Other tactics include attempts to complain about the couple through Freedom of Information requests, flooding the BBC Crimewatch show message board and Facebook pages. Anthony Summers, the author of a recent book that argues the McCanns are innocent, has also been targeted.