The teenager who abducted, raped and murdered six-year-old Alesha MacPhail has had his life sentence reduced by three years.
Aaron Campbell snatched the child from her bedroom last July on the Isle of Bute – where she had been visiting her grandparents during the summer holidays. Her body was found in nearby woodlands a few hours later.
Campbell was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 27 years by Judge Lord Matthews, who described him as a “cold, callous, calculating, remorseless and dangerous individual” in his closing remarks.
However judges at the High Court in Glasgow have since ordered the teenager, who was 16 at the time of his crime, should have his sentence reduced due to his age.
The appeal, which began in August, was attended by Alesha’s parents Robert MacPhail and Georgina Lochrane. Campbell showed no emotion as he appeared in the court via videolink.
Handing down the ruling, Lord Drummond Young, Lord Menzies and Lord Justice Clerk said that “a punishment part in excess of 20 years was plainly merited” but that a shorter minimum sentence of 24 years “would be appropriate” to reflect Campbell’s “youth”.
Alesha suffered 117 individual injuries during the ordeal, some catastrophic, with an autopsy confirming she had died from forceful pressure to her face and neck.
Detectives later found that in the days after her death, Campbell’s phone had been used to Google the phrase: “How do police find DNA”?
After receiving a unanimous guilty verdict during his nine-day trial in March, Campbell admitted his crime to those assessing him – saying he was “quite satisfied by the murder”.
Despite the shortened sentence, judges added there was still a chance he could be kept behind bars long after his time is up.
Noting that the ruling did not stand as a date of release, they added “As the trial judge had observed ... ‘whether [he] will ever be released will be for others to determine but as matters stand a lot of work will have to be done to change [him before that could be considered – it may even be impossible’.”
Additional reporting by PA