Update: A 16-year-old boy faces a life sentence after being found guilty of the “bestial” rape and murder of a six-year-old girl while she visited her grandparents on holiday.
The teenager took Alesha MacPhail from the bed where she was sleeping on the Isle of Bute on July 2 last year and inflicted horrific injuries before dumping her body in woodland.
A jury at the High Court in Glasgow took three hours to find the boy, who cannot be named due to his age, guilty unanimously, following a nine-day trial.
Judge Lord Matthews told him he had committed some of the “wickedest, most evil crimes this court has ever heard”.
He told the boy: “It will be obvious to anyone following this trial that Alesha MacPhail was a sweet, angelic, innocent girl. She came to Rothesay looking forward to spending a few weeks’ holiday with her father, his partner and her grandparents.”
He said that Alesha would, at the end of her trip, have gone home to mother Georgina Lochrane in Airdrie with tales of playing on the beach and finding interesting things in rockpools.
Lord Matthews said: “Instead of that you came into her life, you stole that life and committed some of the wickedest, most evil crimes this court has ever heard.”
He warned the boy, who will be sentenced next month, that “your release may never come”.
Prosecutor Iain McSporran QC said after the verdict: “The loss of such a young child would be hard to bear in any circumstances, but to have her taken in the bestial manner in which Alesha MacPhail lost her life is unfathomable.”
The trial heard Alesha was days into her summer holiday with father Robert MacPhail, 26, and grandparents Angela King and Calum MacPhail when she was snatched from her bed by the boy, who tried to blame her father’s girlfriend Toni McLachlan, 18, for the crime.
His semen was found on the schoolgirl, and he claimed she must have planted it there after having sexual intercourse with him.
Mr McSporran said he hoped the guilty verdict would remove any doubt that she could have been involved.
“She had nothing whatsoever to do with this awful crime,” he said.
In a statement issued by Police Scotland, Alesha’s 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.”
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.”
- Press Association
Earlier: A 16-year-old boy has been found guilty of abducting, raping and murdering six-year-old Alesha MacPhail.
A jury at the High Court in Glasgow took three hours to find the teenager, who cannot be named due to his age, guilty unanimously, following a nine-day trial.
Alesha's body was found in woods on the Isle of Bute on July 2 last year, hours after she was reported missing from the house her father shared with his parents and partner on the island, where the schoolgirl was staying for part of the school holidays.
Here is a timeline of events surrounding the murder of Alesha MacPhail on the Isle of Bute, where she was spending the summer holiday with her father and grandparents.
July 1, 2018
10.30pm – Alesha is put to bed for a final time by her father. Her grandmother is the last of the family to go to bed around two hours later.
1.40am – Around this time Robert MacPhail receives missed calls from the phone of the accused, to whom the court heard he had previously dealt cannabis.
6am – Alesha’s grandfather gets up and realises she is not in her room. A search of the house begins.
6.23am – Alesha’s grandmother calls police to report her missing.
8.54am – Alesha’s body is found in the grounds of the former Kyles Hydropathic Hotel.
9.23am – The six-year-old is pronounced dead, the cause later established as “pressure to neck and face”.
Later that day – The 16-year-old accused sends a video of the top half of his body to friends in a Snapchat group with the message “found the guy who’s done it”.
12.32am – A phone belonging to the accused was used to google “how do police find DNA” and a minute later the internet history showed a page on collecting DNA evidence.
Police arrest a local teenager in connection with Alesha’s death. He is charged the following day.
The accused appears at Greenock Sheriff Court charged with the child’s rape and murder. He makes no plea during the private appearance.
A vigil is held on Bute where locals gather to light candles for the six-year-old in Rothesay’s Guildford Square.
The accused appears at Greenock Sheriff Court for a second time.
Alesha’s funeral is held at Coats Funeral Home in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire. Most mourners wear pink as requested by the family. Bows are tied to the building’s railings and cuddly toys are placed outside. Mourners hear tributes from people close to Alesha including her uncle Calum MacPhail.
The little girl’s family release a video of her to “make her dream come true” of becoming a YouTube star.
The accused appears at the High Court in Glasgow and a trial date is set.
February 11, 2019
The accused goes on trial at the High Court in Glasgow. It emerges he has lodged a special defence of incrimination, blaming Robert MacPhail’s partner Toni McLachlan for the crime.
February 21, 2019
The 16-year-old accused is found guilty of abducting, raping and murdering six-year-old Alesha.- Press Association