Alesha MacPhail: Boy, 16, guilty of raping and murdering six-year-old

A 16-year-old boy has been found guilty of the abduction, rape and murder of Alesha MacPhail by a unanimous jury.

Dressed in a dark grey checkered suit, the boy appeared emotionless as the verdict was delivered at 3.22pm, after around four hours of deliberation.

Alesha MacPhail’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 on the island, where she was staying for part of the school holidays.

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Death of six-year-old Alesha MacPhail on Bute treated as murder
Alesha MacPhail.

“Most evil crimes”

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

Alesha MacPhail.

He deferred sentence until March 21.

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

“My wee pal”

In a statement released after the verdict Alesha’s mum, 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.”

‘Catastrophic’ injuries

Pathologist John Williams told the court Alesha had 117 separate injuries, and a post-mortem examination he conducted indicated she had died from “significant and forceful pressure to her neck and face”.

He agreed the injuries to her private parts were “catastrophic” - more severe than any he had ever seen before - and were at least partially inflicted while she was still alive.

Giving evidence, the accused said he had “never met Alesha MacPhail in person” and denied abducting, raping and murdering her.

Asked if he “brutalised” her, he said: “It’s not me, absolutely not. I would never do something like that.”

Questioned if his “DNA is all over her” because he murdered and raped her, he said: “No.”

A forensic scientist told the court DNA matching the accused was found on Alesha’s body and clothes, with some samples at odds of a billion to one of being his.

The teenager had lodged a special defence of incrimination, blaming Toni McLachlan, the partner of Alesha’s father Robert, or Rab, MacPhail for Alesha’s death.

The court heard the couple used to sell cannabis to the accused.

Giving evidence earlier, Ms McLachlan denied being responsible for the schoolgirl’s death, saying she “loved” her.

Speaking after the verdict Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston, Senior Investigating Officer, said:

“I welcome today’s verdict and hope that it will bring some comfort to the family and friends of little Alesha McPhail 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.

He added: “Crimes such as this are extremely rare and I am glad that we have been able to get justice for Alesha and her family.”