A father was driven to suicide by rumours he was one of James Bulger's killers, his distraught mother has claimed.
Scott Bradley, 36, was accused of being child murderer Robert Thompson, whose real identity is protected, and suffered months of malicious abuse and torment from a hate mob in the village of Garlieston, Wigtownshire, in Scotland.
Mr Bradley, who moved to Scotland seven years ago, left a heartbreaking suicide note which read: 'They called me all sorts - a paedophile, a follower of young girls, walking around bullying old people.
'The list is endless. And Iâm supposed to be a child killer.'
Now his mother Sue, who found her son dead at their home on Sunday, has described how the last 12 months of her son's life became a 'living hell' after the hate mob spread the rumours that he was Thompson, now 29. Sue said: 'My son was tormented by the allegations. He had a good heart and didnât deserve this. Itâs been heartbreaking.
'He kept saying âIâve had enough, Iâm going to kill myselfâ, but I didnât believe him.' The rumours are believed to have begun after a local playwright wrote a fictional play last year about Robert Thompson moving to a remote coastal village in Galloway.
The play, Village of the Damned, proved so controversial that playwright Des Dillon was interviewed by police. In June this year it was revealed Dillon was negotiating the rights to turn it into a Hollywood film.
Mrs Fergus said: 'What happened to Scott makes my blood run cold.
'Iâm shocked and upset that he has apparently taken his own life.
'Whatever the rights and wrongs of this case, this is one that shows how dangerous it is to spread false rumours and gossip about something as serious as the identity of child killers.' She said: 'Sadly Scottâs death goes to show it is other people who are left to suffer as a result of the official conspiracy, lies and deceit that the authorities have used in this case.'
A Dumfries and Galloway police spokesman said Mr Bradley's death was not being treated as suspicious.
Robert Thompson and Jon Venables were just 10 years old when they abducted James Bulger from a shopping centre in Bootle in February 1993. The pair walked the toddler several miles to a railway line in Walton, where they tortured and killed him, leaving his body on a train line where it was hit by a train.
The two-year-old's body was found two days later.
Thompson and Venables were convicted of murder and served eight years in prison before being freed in 2001 and issued with secret new identities to protect them from vigilantes.
Venables was recalled to prison in 2010 after downloading child pornography. He is set to remain in prison indefinitely for his own safety after revealing his true identity.