When Natasha MacBryde committed suicide after being bullied, her family was swamped by unimaginable grief. Her father, Andrew, 47, couldn't eat or sleep - he just couldn't believe he'd never see his beloved daughter again.
Equally devastated, her brother James, now 18, set up a tribute page on Facebook as an outlet for the grief felt by her friends and family.
But within 24 hours, it was defiled by strangers, known as trolls, who annonymously posted sickening messages to get a laugh from fellow trollers.
Last week, unemployed Sean Duffy, 25, from Reading, who suffers from a mild form of autism, was jailed for 18 weeks after admitting sending malicious communications, including posting a picture of Natasha online captioned: “Natasha wasn’t bullied, she was a whore.” He also asked three other offences to be taken into account and was banned from using social networking sites for five years.
He had apparently previously spoken to a newspaper, under the alias “Pro Fessor,” saying: “It’s very funny to mock the dead.”
Speaking amid revelations that a host of crime victims including the parents of Madeline McCann have also been targetet by trolls, Andrew says: “I’m glad he was exposed. It brought unimaginable pain to me that someone could do something so disgusting. I’m glad people will know that posting annonymously doesn’t mean you won’t be tracked down. Now his friends and family and any future employers will know exactly what sort of sick person he is.”
Seven months on from Natasha’s death on 13 February, Andrew’s grief is still raw. “She shouldn’t have died, she had everything going for her. She was popular, beautiful and so kind. She wanted to be a vet – she loved animals and we often walked the dog together – or a paediatrician. Children adored her. She was a perfect daughter.”
The tragic school girl committed suicide by jumping under a train, ironically partly because of internet bullying. Andrew, who’s estranged from Natasha’s mother Jane, says: “The big question is always, ‘Why would she do it?’ I’ve since found out she was bullied online, which I believe contributed. There was never any sign that she was suicidal. “She was a typical teenager, so she had her ups and downs – sometimes she was bubbly and happy, but I’d seen her when she was down with boyfriend issues – but what teenager doesn’t have that? She didn’t leave a note, so we’ll never know.