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  1. ITV Report

'They picked on the wrong girl' - Dad sends his number to trolls after Down syndrome daughter abused online

  • Watch Ella and Neil's appearance on ITV Lunchtime News

When Neil Markham posted a video online of his daughter dancing at a football match, the last thing he expected was a barrage of abuse targeting Ella for having Down syndrome.

Ella was so excited about seeing Tottenham Hotspur for the first time in their new ground, she seemingly did not care her team had lost as she danced away to a band's music.

But Mr Markham, who was shocked to read hurtful messages after posting the video on Twitter, has told ITV News the trolls "picked on the wrong girl this time".

In a bold move he posted his phone number and told trolls to contact him directly rather than hurl hurtful abuse at his 16-year-old daughter - he says the reaction to that was "mixed".

"I had people telling me that I shouldn't have done it.

"I did it - not in an aggressive manner, but it really was a case of 'if you're brave enough to come at Ella, perhaps we can have a conversation'."

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Daring to confront the trolls appeared to have an impact as many others joined in the condemnation of the abusers.

Many of the trolls deleted their posts - and some deleted their Twitter accounts altogether.

Former Spurs midfielder Micky Hazard, who played for the north London club in the 1980s, tweeted: "Hey Neil your daughter is a beautiful young Lady and that is such a beautiful photo of you both.

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"Sometimes people are cruel because they don’t see the beauty but the vast majority do."

He said he would be pleased to meet Ella and her dad at an upcoming Legends game.

Another Tottenham great, Graham Roberts also tweeted his support for dad and daughter.

Roberts, who played alongside Hazard at White Hart Lane in the 1980s, said: "@NeilMarkham1 and his lovely daughter Ella are guests of mine at my gala dinner in May and I can’t wait to spend a special evening with her."

Appearing on ITV Lunchtime News, Ella seemed to have brushed away the abuse as she smiled and joked with presenter Alistair Stewart about Spurs.

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Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.

One in 1,000 children are born in the UK with Down syndrome and there are about 40,000 people who have it.

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Ivor Bennett: