Sunday 18 November 2018

Police charge teen (16) in connection with death of schoolgirl Alesha MacPhail

Police officers search a garden in Ardbeg Road on the Isle of Bute in Scotland, after the body of Alesha MacPhail was found in woodland Photo: John Linton/PA Wire
Police officers search a garden in Ardbeg Road on the Isle of Bute in Scotland, after the body of Alesha MacPhail was found in woodland Photo: John Linton/PA Wire

Paul Ward and Lucy Christie

A 16-year-old youth has been charged in connection with the death of schoolgirl Alesha MacPhail on the Isle of Bute.

The suspect, who has not been identified, is in custody and will appear at Greenock Sheriff Court on Friday, Police Scotland said.

Alesha, six, was a few days into a summer break on the island in the Firth of Clyde, west of Glasgow, when she was reported missing in the early hours of Monday. Her body was found in woodland near her grandparents' home hours later.

A murder probe was launched following the results of a post-mortem examination. Officers have not specified how the pupil at Chapelside Primary School in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, died.

Alesha MacPhail Photo: Facebook
Alesha MacPhail Photo: Facebook

Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston said: "I'd like to take this opportunity to personally thank Alesha's family who have shown incredible bravery through what has been an unimaginable ordeal during these past few days.

"I'd also like to thank local people for all their support and assistance during this major investigation on the island. The response to our appeals was significant both from those living here and the wider community of Scotland.

"The people of the Isle of Bute have rallied together since Alesha was first reported missing on Monday morning and I would stress that social media speculation relating to members of the community is both misleading and inaccurate.

"The family has also received considerable support from Alesha's home town of Airdrie, which was reflected in the memorial service held at her school."

Floral tributes left outside a house on Ardbeg Road on the Isle of Bute in Scotland, after the body of Alesha MacPhail was found in woodland on the site of a former hotel by a member of the public on Monday Photo: John Linton/PA Wire
Floral tributes left outside a house on Ardbeg Road on the Isle of Bute in Scotland, after the body of Alesha MacPhail was found in woodland on the site of a former hotel by a member of the public on Monday Photo: John Linton/PA Wire

Officers confirmed they had made an arrest in connection with Alesha's death on Wednesday evening.

It followed a day of police activity at the house on Ardbeg Road where Alesha had been staying.

A team combed the grounds of the property and a black Dacia car was removed by investigators.

Mr Houston said: "Officers and staff from across Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority have been involved in what has been a difficult and challenging investigation during which they have worked tirelessly to bring us to where we are today.

"As I have said previously, incidents such as this are extremely rare and while the police investigation will continue, I hope that today's announcement brings some reassurance to everyone in the local community.

"It is understandable that recent events will have shocked communities across Scotland, no more so than on Bute and in Airdrie. Argyll and Bute and North Lanarkshire councils have services available for those who may have been affected."

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