Alesha MacPhail murder: Aaron Campbell jailed for 27 years for killing and raping six-year-old girl

Judge says 16-year-old is a ‘cold, callous, calculating, remorseless and dangerous individual’

Chris Baynes
Thursday 21 March 2019 14:40
Court erupts following sentencing of teenager Aaron Campbell to 27 years for killing and raping six-year-old girl Alesha MacPhail

The 16-year-old boy who abducted, raped and murdered six-year-old Alesha MacPhail has been jailed for a minimum of 27 years.

Aaron Campbell was sentenced to indefinite detention in a hearing at Glasgow’s High Court, where a judge described him as a “cold, callous, calculating, remorseless and dangerous individual”.

Background reports detailed in court on Thursday revealed the teenager had admitted killing Alesha, despite having denied wrongdoing and attempting to frame the partner of the girl’s father during a trial last month.

Campbell showed no remorse for his crimes, described himself as “quite satisfied” with the child’s murder, and was “completely lacking in victim empathy”, judge Lord Matthews said.

Alesha was found dead on the Isle of Bute on 2 July last year, hours after she was reported missing from the house her father and grandparents lived in.

Campbell had snatched her from her bed as she slept after breaking into the house looking for cannabis, which he sometimes bought from her father. He inflicted horrific injuries on the child before dumping her body in woodland.

Pathologist John Williams said Alesha had suffered 117 separate injuries, and a post-mortem examination indicated she had died from “significant and forceful pressure to her neck and face”.

During a nine-day trial in Glasgow, Campbell claimed he had never met his victim and lodged a defence naming the 18-year-old girlfriend of Alesha’s father as the killer.

But in reports compiled by social workers and psychologists ahead of the sentencing, Campbell gave a detailed account of having “violated and murdered” the girl “in the most brutal fashion”, Lord Matthews said.

Campbell ‘violated and murdered’ Alesha Macphail ‘in the most brutal fashion’

The clinical psychologist who interviewed Campbell said the teenager recalled murdering Alesha “in a matter of fact manner, notable for the absence of any emotions”.

Campbell described seeing Alesha in bed as “a moment of opportunity”. He told the psychologist: “All I thought about was killing her, once I saw her.”

Alesha’s family members wept in the public gallery as they heard she had asked Campbell who he was as he carried her away from the house. According to the background reports, he replied that he was “a friend of her father” and was taking her home.

After killing Alesha, Campbell threw his blood-stained clothing into the sea and went home.

He told the psychologist that over the next few days he was totally unconcerned, other than to be mildly amused that police had not arrested him.

Alesha MacPhail was found dead in July 2018

Campbell was arrested after his own mother contacted police about CCTV footage which showed her son coming and going from their home several times in the early hours of 2 June, removing items of clothing and retrieving a torch.

Lord Matthews told the teenager: “During the trial, not once did I detect a flicker of emotion from you.

“You told [the psychologist] that at points during the trial, it took everything to stop you laughing and you had to zip your mouth.”

The judge added: “Whether you 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 you before that could be considered. It may even be impossible.”

Psychological evaluation found Campbell presented a range of traits related to psychopathy and sexually harmful behaviour, but had highlighted no issues to suggest Campbell was not of sound mind when he murdered Alesha.

The six-year-old, who lived with her mother in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, had arrived on the island days before her death for a three-week summer holiday.

Prosecutor Iain McSporran told the court Alesha’s family were “utterly devastated and heartbroken”. He added: “She was a beautiful, kind and thoughtful child who they miss every day.

“They are tortured and tormented by the circumstances of her murder. I think overwhelmed is an understatement.

“They do not see how they can live a normal life. Her future was taken and so was theirs.”

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Alesha’s mother, Georgina Lochrane, jumped up from her seat and shouted at Campbell as he was led away from the dock.

The 24-year-old said earlier this week she wanted to meet her daughter’s killer in prison, telling the Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser: “I just want to know, why her? Why Alesha?

“I have questions that need [to be] answered and he is the only one who can answer them.”

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