AN internet troll who taunted the family of Katrice Lee with sick online jibes has been spared jail.
Despicable Donna Wright, who mistakenly believed she was the Hartlepool toddler who disappeared in 1981, told the distraught family in one of many disgraceful Facebook messages: “You lost your daughter over a packet of crisps, you make me sick.”
Today Katrice’s heartbroken father Richie Lee, of Stockton Road, Hartlepool, described the 33-year-old as “evil” and said she was “lower than a snake’s belly”.
The 63-year-old retired postman told the Mail: “How low can somebody go? It’s just unbelievable, despicable and horrific. She apologised through her solicitor in court, but I don’t accept her apology, it’s hollow.”
Wright was slapped with a 12-week jail sentence suspended for 18 months after she admitted sending offensive messages to the family of Katrice via their Facebook page, which was set up to help search for the girl who would now also be aged 33.
Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court heard how the defendant had believed she was Katrice and had made contact with the family in December 2011, but when a DNA test proved negative, Wright continued to send messages.
Wright ignored a police warning to stop and was charged after sending 12 messages in a six-week period last autumn. She then sent a further message flouting a court-imposed bail condition.
Wright, who has been diagnosed as having mental illness bi-polar disorder, said in one distressing message under a false name: “You silly old bitch, you thought you had seen harassment. You have not seen harassment yet.”
The court also heard that in another rambling post, she claimed: “I was brought over from Germany. Will you please help me look into this. It’s a cover-up.”
Leanne Galbraith, mitigating, said: “She apologises for the messages that have been sent. She understands how hurtful those comments have been. She appreciates the impact on the family and she fully regrets her acts.”
District Judge Martin Walker took the unusual move to sentence Wright, from Hillside Court, Spennymoor, via videolink while she sat in another courtroom.
He also ordered her to pay £200 compensation each to Katrice’s mother Sharon Lee and sister Natasha Lee, out of her benefits.
He imposed a restraining order to prevent Wright from contacting the family, posting on Katrice’s Facebook page, making public comments about them, and not to change her own Facebook name or set up a new account.
He told Wright: “It (the harassment) stops today for the sake of the family. The harm to the victims is gross. This defendant must have known of the pain and grief that would have been suffered.”
Katrice went missing on her second birthday from a shop near an Army base in Paderborn where her father Richie was serving with the King’s Royal Hussars.
In victim impact statements read to the court, Natasha, 39, who was due to appear on Daybreak earlier today with her mum, described Wright as “pure evil” and said: “My parents have already suffered enough heart-ache and pain. This is even harder to bear because of Donna Wright.”
Sharon’s read: “Continued harassment by Donna Wright is something we did not ask for and do not need.”
Richie says he hopes the actions of Wright would not discourage others from coming forward if they believed they were Katrice.