Alesha MacPhail: Teenager found guilty of rape and murder of six-year-old girl in Scotland

Judge says 16-year-old committed some of the ‘wickedest, most evil crimes this court has ever heard’

Peter Stubley
Thursday 21 February 2019 16:27
Police statement after 16-year-old boy found guilty of Alesha McPhail abduction, rape and murder

A 16-year-old boy has been found guilty of abducting, raping and murdering six-year-old Alesha MacPhail.

The teenager, who cannot be named because of his age, snatched the schoolgirl from her bedroom while she was spending part of the summer holidays with her father and grandparents on the Isle of Bute.

Alesha’s body was found in woodland a few hours later. She had suffered 117 separate injuries and died from forceful pressure to her face and neck.

Judge Lord Matthews told the boy he had committed some of the “wickedest, most evil crimes this court has ever heard” and deferred sentencing until 21 March.

“I have no idea what made you do this but I do know that the evidence you did it was overwhelming,” he added.

The judge said he would consider an application from the media to lift the ban on identifying the boy on Friday.

As the teenager was led downstairs, a man in the public gallery shouted “evil” and another said “f***ing scumbag”.

The court heard Alesha had gone to to bed at 10.30pm on 1 July before falling asleep watching a Peppa Pig DVD.

When her grandmother went to sleep two hours later, the key to the flat was left in the lock, as it had been throughout the day.

Nobody heard anything when Alesha was taken from her bedroom, down the stairs and out of the house during the night.

The alarm was raised when the schoolgirl’s grandfather got up at 6am and found the door open. An appeal for help was posted on Facebook, and friends and neighbours began searching the beach and park.

Alesha’s body was found at 8.54am in the grounds of the former Kyles Hydropathic Hotel.

Later the same day the 16-year-old boy sent a video of himself to friends in a Snapchat group with the message “found the guy who’s done it”. The next day he googled “how do police find DNA”.

Giving evidence, the boy said he had “never met Alesha MacPhail in person” and added: “It’s not me, absolutely not. I would never do something like that.”

His DNA profile matched samples taken from the schoolgirl’s body and clothing and his phone showed he had tried to call Alesha’s father Robert MacPhail at 1.40am on 2 July.

The teenager lodged a special defence of incrimination, blaming Mr MacPhail’s partner Toni McLachlan for Alesha’s death.

Mr MacPhail admitted he had sold cannabis to the 16-year-old until a few months before the murder.

In a statement issued by police, Alesha’s mother Georgina Lochrane said: “Words cannot express just how devastated I am to have lost my beautiful, happy, smiley wee girl.

“I am glad that the boy who did this has finally been brought to justice and that he will not be able to inflict the pain on another family that he has done to mine.

“Alesha, I love you so much, my wee pal. I will miss you forever.”

The MacPhail family said: “We can’t believe that we will never see our wee angel Alesha again. We miss her so much.

“We hope that the boy who took her from us is jailed for a long time because of what he has done to our family.

“Alesha may be gone from our lives but she will always be in our hearts.”

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Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston, senior investigating officer in the case for Police Scotland, said: “I welcome today’s verdict and hope that it will bring some comfort to the family and friends of little Alesha MacPhail who have been through the most horrific ordeal.

“Throughout the police investigation and this trial, Alesha’s family have shown incredible bravery in the face of the most appalling circumstances.

“Alesha’s senseless and barbaric murder shocked the small community on Bute and people across Scotland. The effects of her death are still being felt today.”

Additional reporting by Press Association