Alesha MacPhail killer Aaron Campbell has sentence reduced following successful appeal

Aaron Campbell has had his sentence reduced by three years. Picture: PA
Aaron Campbell has had his sentence reduced by three years. Picture: PA
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The teenager who raped and murdered six-year-old Alesha MacPhail has had his sentenced reduced by three years on appeal.


Aaron Campbell, 17, was jailed for 27 years before parole in March this year, after denying his crimes and trying to pin the blame on Alesha's father's girlfriend.

READ MORE: Alesha MacPhail killer Aaron Campbell appeals against sentence: I'm only a child

He snatched Alesha from her bed in her grandparents' home on the Isle of Bute in July 2018, and carried her to nearby woodland where he raped and suffocated her.

READ MORE: YouTube criticised for not removing Alesha MacPhail’s killer’s videos

Campbell was convicted but told social workers he had 'tried to zip his mouth shut' to prevent from laughing during the trial, at the High Court in Glasgow.

He appealed the 27 year life sentence, at a hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh in August.

READ MORE: Alesha MacPhail: Killer who raped and murdered 6-year-old to plead for shorter sentence

Campbell's lawyers argued that the sentence was 'excessive' as he was aged 16 at the time of the murder.

Judges have now reduced it to 24 years before parole after citing case law.

Disturbing details emerged, including Campbell telling a forensic psychologist that he continued to fantasise about paedophilia and necrophilia.

Information published in the judgement included details from an interview Campbell did with psychologist Dr Macpherson.

It said: "He reported that he continued to experience thoughts of killing and having sex with children and having sex with dead bodies.

"He wished to point out that he was not fantasising about this, but 'acting on his thoughts.' "In the deceased's home, 'once I realised she was a child, I started having thoughts about raping her, about killing her.' "He said 'Four questions - murder, rape, necrophilia and paedophilia. All I thought about was killing her once I saw her.' "He appeared irritated by the medical evidence that the child was alive at the time of the sexual assault as this would not have fulfilled his desire for necrophilia."

However, despite the crimes being described in the judgement as "extremely brutal sexual assaults of the utmost degeneracy, committed whilst the child was alive, and causing very significant injury and pain", the sentence was reduced.

It was said, "we do not think that it is possible entirely to rule out any residual capacity for change in such a young individual, notwithstanding the atrocious nature of his crime".

The combination of a future risk Campbell posed was assessed, as well as "the appalling nature of the crime and the bleak prospects for change, led the trial judge to make inadequate allowance for the mitigatory effect of youth, even in such a shocking offence as the present", it added.

The judgement said: "The trial judge may have been unduly influenced by the pessimism in the report he had as to the prospects for change, thus incorrectly reflecting the element of future risk in the sentence which he selected.

"Future risk is a matter for the Parole Board, not for the sentencing judge in selection of the punishment part."

It added: "Against the cases to which we have made reference, a punishment part in excess of 20 years was plainly merited.

"We have concluded that a punishment part of 24 years would be appropriate to reflect the appellant's youth.

"We will accordingly allow the appeal to the extent of substituting that period for the sentence imposed.

"As with all punishment parts, this is not an indication of the date when the appellant will be released.

"It specifies rather the period which must pass before the appellant may even apply for parole.

"As the trial judge had observed, and as was recognised by counsel for the appellant (see para 12 above), "whether [the appellant] 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 [the appellant] before that could be considered.

"It may even be impossible."