Friday 24 May 2019

'Alesha’s family is utterly devastated' - teen arrested on suspicion of murdering girl (6)

Alesha MacPhail Photo: Facebook
Alesha MacPhail Photo: Facebook

Chris Baynes

A teenager has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of six-year-old Alesha MacPhail on the Isle of Bute of the coast of Scotland.

The schoolgirl was staying with relatives on the island when she was reported missing in the early hours of Monday morning.

Her body was found in woodland near her grandmother's home by Rothesay hours later.

Police Scotland said a male under the age of 18 had been arrested. The force launched a murder investigation after the girl’s body was found in woodland by a member of the public.

She was reported missing earlier that morning while staying with her father and grandparents in Bute‘s main town, Rothesay, for the summer holidays.

Announcing the arrest on Wednesday, Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston said: “Despite this evening’s major development, I am still appealing for anyone who was in the Ardbeg Road area of Bute on Sunday night or in the early hours of Monday and who may have information about Alesha’s death to contact us.

“Anyone who has CCTV at their home or business, or indeed any motorists with dashcam footage which might help with our investigation, are also urged to get in touch.”

Alesha’s death has stunned Rothesay, described by detectives as a “tight-knit community” with a population of about 4,850.

Islanders joined her family and police in searching for the six-year-old after she was reported missing at 6.25am Monday morning.

Her body was found in woods on the grounds of an abandoned hotel around three hours later.

Alesha, whose mother lives on the mainland in Coatbridge, had arrived on Bute only days earlier.

Dept Supt Houston said: “Alesha’s family is utterly devastated and we are continuing to provide them with the support they require at this incredibly distressing time. Alesha had lots of friends who will no doubt find it very difficult to comprehend why they will never see their friend gain.

“Like any other six-year old, Alesha was looking forward to enjoying her holidays from primary school and was only a few days into a three week summer break visiting relatives on the island. For such a young girl to have her life taken away is incomprehensible.”

Officers have been conducting door-to-door enquiries and studying CCTV footage as they investigate Alesha’s death.

Detectives appealed for anyone involved in the search for the six-year-old to speak to police.

Chief Superintendent Hazel Hendren, police commander for Argyll and West Dunbartonshire, said: “Every available resource from across Police Scotland is being made available to this major investigation. Our absolute priority is catching the person responsible for this horrendous act as quickly as possible.

“I understand that there will be a high level of concern among people living in this close knit community but I want to reassure people that everything possible is being done. Incidents such as this are extremely rare but we are still in the early stages of this investigation and we would ask people to be vigilant about their children and also their household security.

“The island community needs to pull together at times like this and we need their help – anyone with any information, please come forward.”

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