Sick toddler’s mother target of online taunt

Julie Wagland and 22-month old son Billy, who was diagnosed with cancer last year. Picture: Ross Parry Agency

Julie Wagland and 22-month old son Billy, who was diagnosed with cancer last year. Picture: Ross Parry Agency

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A mother whose toddler son nearly died while battling leukaemia has been sent a cruel online taunt on a social networking page.

The message sent to Julie Wagland, from, Lowedges in Sheffield, is another example of so-called online “trolling” which has also now affected pop star Gary Barlow whose stillborn baby was mocked on Twitter.

Gary Barlow, whose baby daughter Poppy was delivered stillborn

Gary Barlow, whose baby daughter Poppy was delivered stillborn

Ms Wagland’s son Billy, aged 22 months, came close to death after been diagnosed with the cancer last year.

When she came across a controversial fan page on Facebook entitled “dead baby jokes”, Julie left a message saying she was offended.

But after receiving a mocking reply Julie is now urging readers to report the page, which has more than 50,000 members. She is calling for it to be banned and also wants people to support petitions calling for its removal.

Ms Wagland, a social worker, said: ”I received a reply back saying how hilarious they thought it was that my baby nearly died and asking if I tried to eat him.

“I was shocked, I think it’s really disgusting. Looking at the page I am not the first person this has happened to.

“The petition to ban this group has got 22,000 signatures and it still hasn’t been banned.

“People can taunt those with sick children and parents who are grieving because it is apparently freedom of speech.”

Billy is still having chemotherapy but should get the all-clear in October after bravely fighting several bouts of septicaemia.

During the time she spent at hospital Julie also knows grieving parents who lost their children to the disease.

She added: ”I don’t think there is a word to describe people who can laugh about babies dying, it’s not even in the dictionary. I think they are very sick. I don’t think this is a joke.”

A Facebook spokesman said the page does not violate any policies which strike a balance between freedom of expression and a safe environment, although it may be offensive to some people.

Meanwhile another internet troll has sparked a wave of revulsion after mocking Gary Barlow’s stillborn baby online – then grumbling that a model had blocked him on Twitter.

Twitter user @MrKennethTong, believed to be former Big Brother contestant Kenneth Tong, posted a number of offensive statements on his account about the grieving musician’s late daughter Poppy.

He then claimed he would stop if model and actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley responded to him on Twitter. And he went on to suggest the controversy should enable him to be given a “verified” account on the social networking site, such as those used by prominent figures and celebrities.

Tong’s comments, which provoked widespread anger on Twitter, have been condemned by other users and celebrity friends of Barlow and his wife Dawn, who delivered her fourth child stillborn in London on Saturday.

The Take That star’s fellow X Factor judge Louis Walsh was among those calling for Tong to be banned from the microblogging website.

He said: “Kenneth Tong shouldn’t be allowed to tweet such horrible things. His tweets to Gary Barlow are horrific and disrespectful to the lowest level.”

Tong, who appeared on Big Brother in 2009, referenced lyrics from a number of Take That songs in the series of tweets directed at Barlow. He also posted a picture of a child’s coffin accompanied by more sickening comments.

But unruffled Tong appeared to be relishing his moment in the spotlight with a later Tweet which said: “With all my controversy and continued notoriety, twice over, I deserve to be Verified by Twitter. Do you lot agree?”

And referring to Transformers 3 star Huntington-Whiteley, he said: “Why vilify me when it’s @RHW that’s the culprit. All she needs to do is tell me to stop and I will behave.”

“Cannot believe Rosie Huntington-Whiteley blocked me,” he added.

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