Tuesday 25 September 2018

Body of young schoolgirl (6) found on Scottish island three hours after she was reported missing

Alesha MacPhail Photo: Facebook
Alesha MacPhail Photo: Facebook
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A body found in woodland on an island is that of a young schoolgirl reported missing on Monday, police have confirmed.

Six-year-old Alesha MacPhail was reported missing from Rothesay on the Isle of Bute at 6.25am on Monday.

The body of a young girl was found in woodland on the site of a former hotel in Ardbeg Road by a member of the public at about 9am.

Police said that the body has now been formally identified as being that of Alesha MacPhail.

Officers are treating her death as "unexplained" and a post-mortem examination will be carried out on Tuesday.

Tributes have been paid to the little girl, who was a pupil at Chapelside Primary School in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire.

Headteacher Wendy Davie said: "Alesha started with us at Chapelside Primary in August 2016 and had just finished primary two.

"She loved being at school and enjoyed all aspects of literacy, in particular writing. She was such a perfectionist in her handwriting and was very proud of her work.

"Alesha was very friendly and she welcomed everyone first thing in the morning at breakfast club.

"She was a very considerate child who loved being part of a group and she was popular with all the other children, and was a smiley and happy young girl.

"She was part of the family of Chapelside Primary and she will be greatly missed by everyone at the school.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and Chapelside Primary community at this very sad time."

Police have launched a major investigation into the death and extra officers including forensics specialists have been sent to the island to help with inquiries.

They are particularly keen to hear from anyone who was involved in searching for Alesha on Monday morning.

Senior investigating officer detective superintendent Stuart Houston said: "Whilst we have had a very encouraging response from our appeal yesterday, I would continue to appeal to those who took part in the search for Alesha when she was reported missing.

"Those individuals may have critical information which could assist with our enquiries."

The death was said to have had an impact on all those living in the "tight-knit community".

Councillor Len Scoullar said: "Everyone is very shocked, very sympathetic and concerned.

"We will all be offering our very sincere condolences to the family.

"We are a very small island community, people are genuinely grieving for the family."

High Road in Ardbeg, near Rothesay, was shut by a police cordon and a floral tribute had been laid near police accident signs.

A separate cordon was set up outside houses on Ardbeg Road and police tape set up at the seafront on the opposite side of the street.

Tributes continued to be left outside the house on Ardbeg Road.

Flowers, teddies and balloons have been left on the pavement with messages attached reading "sleep tight little angel" and "good night little angel".

A Cinderella toy had a hand-written note which said: "Sleep tight little princess, you'll never be forgotten."

Part of the beach front and a shelter opposite the house also remains cordoned off with police tape while cars are being diverted from the end of Ardbeg Road.

A forensic team arrived at the property on Ardbeg Road on Tuesday afternoon.

Four officers in white overalls entered the back garden of the house while another took photographs of the property which is thought to be made up of three flats.

Earlier, locals continued to leave tributes at the scene, including two coastguard officers who laid flowers outside the property.

Anyone with information is asked to call officers at the major investigations teams via 101, quoting incident no 0695 of 2 July 2018.

Press Association

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