THE leader of a campaign to evict the Da Vinci rapist from a local community has quit due to a torrent of online abuse – and taken her caravan with her.
Sharon O’Donnell, 42, from Newtongrange, has called time on heading up the protest after a barrage of personal attacks on the group’s Facebook page.
As a result, she has also taken the decision to both close the page, which had drawn more than 14,500 supporters in just three months, and to scrap a brightly-painted caravan which had served as a campaign headquarters.
Tempers have frayed amongst protesters in recent weeks as the campaign’s initial momentum began to slow, with arguments taking place on the social media site.
Sharon said: “I don’t want to walk away but enough is enough. The abuse I’ve been getting is sickening, it was beginning to affect my family.
“I had been prepared to leave the caravan but then I heard that people were talking about burning it down. I couldn’t have that so it’s been taken away and scrapped.
“The abuse I was receiving was getting out of hand. People were claiming that I was mates with Robert Greens and that I was trying to help him in some way. I can’t believe that people would think something as sick as that.”
The mum-of-two will now concentrate on setting up Footprints Scotland, a community support group for victims of physical and mental abuse, after she was inundated with calls during the campaign.
She added: “People have been claiming that I only got involved with the protest to help get the support group off the ground, which is ridiculous really.
“I wish the protest well but I’m not having anything to do with it any more.”
Protesters have maintained a presence outside Greens’ cottage, near Bonnyrigg, since his relocation in May.
Greens was freed from jail in January after serving six years for the rape of a 19-year-old Dutch student in 2005.
One protester, who asked not to be named, welcomed the stepping down of Sharon O’Donnell from the campaign.
She said: “No-one asked her to become the campaign leader, she has only ever been interested in getting her name in the papers and plugging her cafe and support group. We are the ones who are here every night in all weather. I think her leaving will make us stronger as we’ll be left with the true protesters.
“None of us want our names in the papers we just want him out for the good of the community.”
At its peak, the campaign saw hundreds of protesters twice descend on Greens’ cottage on planned marches and Dalkeith town centre was also brought to a standstill by an organised traffic go slow and marches on Midlothian Council headquarters.