Alesha MacPhail: Scottish Police tracing last known movements of six-year-old on Isle of Bute after body found

'This death of a six-year-old child has shocked the tight-knit community of Rothesay and it is imperative that we find out what has happened'

Peter Stubley
Wednesday 04 July 2018 20:26 BST
Six year-old Alesha MacPhail was reported missing on Monday morning.
Six year-old Alesha MacPhail was reported missing on Monday morning. (Angela King/Facebook)

Police are appealing for help as they investigate the death of a six-year-old girl whose body was found in woodland less than three hours after she was reported missing.

Alesha MacPhail disappeared while staying with her father and grandparents in Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, Scotland, for the summer holidays.

Her family and local residents joined the search after the alarm was raised at 6.25am on Monday.

Grandmother Angela King posted pictures of Alesha on Facebook with the message: "Alesha has gone missing from our house please help look for her."

Mother Georgina Lochrane, who lives on the mainland in Coatbridge and appeared not to have been told her daughter was missing, responded: "Someone tell me what's happened that's my daughter."

​Alesha's body was found in woodland in the grounds of an abandoned hotel on Ardberg Road, Rothesay, at 9am.

Police Scotland said they were treating the death as unexplained until they receive the results of the postmortem being carried out at 12pm on Tuesday.

Detectives are carrying out door-to-door enquiries for information as well as speaking to those involved in the search.

Alesha's body was found in woodland by a member of the public
Alesha's body was found in woodland by a member of the public

Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston from Police Scotland's Major Investigation Teams said: "This death of a 6 year old child has shocked the tight knit community of Rothesay and it is imperative that we find out what has happened.

"This investigation is at its very early stages however I am appealing for information in order to piece together Alesha's last known movements.

"We know that once the alarm was raised about her being missing, there were a number of local people who assisted with the search. I would like to speak to anyone who was involved in that search who have not yet been spoken to by the police.

"This is to ensure that everyone that was in the vicinity of Ardbeg Road at the time is traced as they may have critical information which could assist with the investigation.

"I must reiterate that this death is still being treated as unexplained at this time, however I would like to reassure the public that this type of incident is rare.

"I understand that there are real concerns in the community however please be assured that a team of detectives are working on this investigation to ascertain the circumstances leading up to death of this young child. Specially trained officers are supporting the family during this incredibly difficult time.

"If anyone has any information please contact police with that information. You might think it is insignificant however please let us be the judge of that, and contact us immediately."

Officers are also speaking to visitors to the island coming from the ferry route.

Superintendent Brian Gibson said: "I'd like to reassure the public that whilst they will be very concerned, additional officers will be in the area if anyone has any specific concerns, so please speak to them.

"Similarly, if anyone has any information they wish to provide to police, they can do so by speaking to any of these officers."

Dozens of tributes to Alesha were posted on Facebook in reply to the appeal put out by her grandmother. One wrote: "Bless you Alesha you are now a beautiful Angel in heaven." Another said: "I'm so sorry Angela. I know how much you loved her and spent lots of happy times with her. The whole of Rothesay and beyond are sending out love to you."

Several commenters criticised the way Alesha's mother was not told about her daughter's disappearance and death before discovering the news on Facebook.

The Isle of Bute, which has a population of around 6,000, lies off Scotland's west coast and is only accessible by boat.

It became known in 2015 for accepting the UK's first refugees fleeing the Syrian War, taking in and homing 15 families.

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