Belfast Telegraph

Oscar Knox's dad condemns death threats to gym trainer over online remarks

By Claire Williamson

Oscar Knox's father has intervened after a Belfast gym trainer received a torrent of abuse and death threats over a Facebook post about his son, calling it "totally unacceptable".

The story of Wee Oscar touched the hearts of people around the world as his parents Stephen and Leona told of his hard-fought battle with neuroblastoma in a series of diary entries and on social media. The five-year-old passed away last week.

The wave of online abuse began after Danielle Johnston, a personal trainer at her husband Will's Sculpture gym on Balmoral Road in Belfast, was accused of using Oscar's name for self-promotion following a Facebook post on Monday evening.

Danielle wrote: "I think it's really sad when poor wee Oscar had no choice with his illness and tried to fight it as much as he could.

"When people know the dangers of being overweight and unhealthy but continue to do so.

"Changing your lifestyle isn't easy but it's definitely worth the blood, sweat and tears for a happy healthy life."

Danielle was forced to remove her Facebook account just hours after making the remarks because of the volume of angry comments directed at her.

The fitness expert said she was devastated by the torrent of abuse that continued following the post and spoke of a "living nightmare".

She is currently on her honeymoon and said the online backlash had reduced her to tears.

The newlywed said: "It's just been a complete nightmare. I didn't even think when I put up the post, and it wasn't written in the context that people have taken it.

"The post was up for a while and people were actually liking it, but then one person commented negatively and the abuse just kept coming.

"I put an apology on straight away, to make it clear I meant no offence in relation to Oscar, but it had moved on from that – it was personal attacks on me and Will.

"I had death threats and people from America messaging me to tell me they hated me.

"Last year at Sculpture we ran a campaign to raise money for Oscar and we have sold wristbands for the great cause the family continues to campaign for."

Yesterday Oscar's dad took to Twitter to condemn the outpouring of invective.

"Sad to see those Belfast gym owners getting such abuse," Stephen Knox posted. "I'm sure it was an innocent comment. Death threats totally unacceptable!"

Thousands of mourners attended Oscar's funeral on Sunday at St Bernard's Church in Glengormley and later that night hundreds of floating lanterns were launched across the country as people moved by his fighting spirit paid tribute to the little boy's legacy by lighting up the night sky.

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Since Oscar's death more than £32,000 has been donated to the Northern Ireland's Children's Hospice and the Children's Haematology Unit at the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, in lieu of flowers.

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