16-year-old charged with murder and rape of Alesha MacPhail

Police Scotland forensics officers examine the woods where 6-year-old Alesha MacPhail was found on July 2, 2018.
Police Scotland forensics officers examine the woods where 6-year-old Alesha MacPhail was found on July 2, 2018.

A teenager has appeared at Greenock Sheriff Court charged with the rape and murder of six-year-old Alesha MacPhail who was found dead on Monday in Port Bannatyne.

The 16-year-old male, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, made no plea during a private appearance at Greenock Sheriff Court today (Friday), the Crown Office said.

Alesha from Airdrie was on holiday on the island, when she was reported missing in the early hours of Monday. Her body was found a few hours later. A murder probe was then launched following the results of a post-mortem examination.

The 16-year-old was arrested two days after the six-year-old was discovered in woodland near her grandparents’ home.

He appeared today in front of Sheriff McIntyre in Greenock charged with murder and an offence under section 18 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009, which covers the rape of a young child.

He was remanded in custody ahead of a second court appearance later in July. He arrived in a security van that reversed in the back door of Greenock Sheriff Court on Friday morning.

On Thursday, Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston said Alesha’s family had shown “incredible bravery through what has been an unimaginable ordeal”, and he thanked local people on Bute for their assistance in the investigation.