Thursday 17 October 2019

Boy (16) guilty of brutal rape and murder of Alesha (6)

Tears: Georgina Lochrane leaves court in Glasgow after a boy (16) was found guilty of the murder and rape of her daughter Alesha. Photo: PA
Tears: Georgina Lochrane leaves court in Glasgow after a boy (16) was found guilty of the murder and rape of her daughter Alesha. Photo: PA
Alesha MacPhail. Photo: PA

Devlin Barrett

A 16-year-old boy has been found guilty of abducting, raping and murdering a six-year-old schoolgirl in Scotland.

A jury at the High Court in Glasgow took three hours to deliver a unanimous verdict in the nine-day trial. The boy cannot be named due to his age.

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 and partner, where the schoolgirl was staying for part of the school holidays.

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

In a statement issued by Police Scotland, Alesha's 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."

Her mother, 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 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."

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 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 had "brutalised" her, he said: "It's not me, absolutely not. I would never do something like that."

Questioned if his DNA was 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.

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.

Alesha was to spend three weeks on the Isle of Bute at her grandparents' home. Three days into her stay, she was as "high as a kite" as she returned from a party clutching a balloon and, like most young children, took some persuading to go to bed.

It was the last time her family saw her alive.

In the early hours of Monday, July 2, an intruder crept into her room, took the child from her bed and subjected her to a horrific sexual assault.

Her naked body was found in nearby woodland the next day, her pink polka-dot pyjama shorts and white vest a short distance away.

The crime shocked the community to the core on the small island in the Firth of Clyde where many people did not even feel the need to lock their doors.

There was further disbelief that a local teenager would be charged with Alesha's rape and murder, a 16-year-old boy who would then try to blame her father's live-in girlfriend for the killing.

The nine-day trial heard evidence from Alesha's 26-year-old father and from her grandparents Calum MacPhail and Angela King, who described their last hours with the youngster.

Jurors heard from Ms McLachlan (18), who said she loved Alesha "to pieces" and had only found out she was being incriminated a few days before she gave evidence.

Last came the evidence of the smartly turned-out and composed accused, who told the court Ms McLachlan could have been "fantasising about killing Alesha for months" after defence suggestions she was jealous of the child and felt threatened by the attention Mr MacPhail paid his daughter.

The intensive work of crime scene examiners, forensic experts and detectives told a different story.

Irish Independent

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