Police Scotland are investigating messages posted on social media which could ‘risk prejudicing court proceedings’.
The warning follows a number of posts made on websites such as Twitter and Facebook which have speculated on the identity of the 16-year-old who yesterday appeared at Greenock Sheriff Court charged with the rape and murder of Alesha MacPhail, six, from Airdrie.
Under Scots law, the identities of persons aged under 18 who are charged with any crime are protected.
In a statement today, Police Scotland said it was “investigating a number of reports of social media posts which risk prejudicing future court proceedings and could put you in breach of the Contempt of Court Act”.
The 16-year-old was arrested two days after the schoolgirl was discovered in woodland near her grandparents’ home in Port Bannatyne.
He appeared in front of Sheriff McIntyre in Greenock charged with murder and an offence under section 18 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009, which covers the rape of a young child.
He was remanded in custody ahead of a second court appearance later in July.
He arrived in a security van that reversed in the back door of Greenock Sheriff Court on Friday morning.
On Thursday, Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston said Alesha’s family had shown “incredible bravery through what has been an unimaginable ordeal”, and he thanked local people on Bute for their assistance in the investigation.