Three-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared on 3 May 2007 from a holiday apartment in Portugal. Over five years and multiple investigations that failed to solve this abducted child case, Madeleine and her parents were subject to a relentless "intermediatization" and a "trial by media" in the UK press. Across 24-7 news coverage, websites, documentaries, films, YouTube videos, books, magazines, music and artworks, Madeleine was a mediagenic image of innocence and a lucrative narrative. In contrast to Madeleine’s media sacralization, the representation of her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, fluctuated between periods of vociferous support and prolonged and libellous trial by media. Our theorization of trial by media is developed and refined through considering its legal limitations in an era of "attack journalism" and unprecedented official UK inquiries into press misconduct and criminality.