Alesha MacPhail murder: Bute residents in shock at terrible crime on ‘trusting island’

Port Bannatyne, where the body was found. Picture: Allan Milligan/TSPL
Port Bannatyne, where the body was found. Picture: Allan Milligan/TSPL

Residents on Bute have been struggling to convey the deep sense of shock they feel at the murder of Alesha MacPhail.

The six-year-old, from Airdrie, was found dead on Monday by a member of the public in woodland on the site of a former hotel in Ardbeg Road, a residential street in Port Bannatyne on the outskirts of Rothesay.

Police cordon on Ardberg Road. Picture: SWNS

Police cordon on Ardberg Road. Picture: SWNS

The girl had been staying with her grandparents on the island when she was reported missing.

Police launched a murder investigation yesterday and warned parents to lock doors and keep an eye on their children.

Councillor Len Scoullar, provost of Argyll and Bute Council, has lived on the island since 1969. He said he could not recall any comparable investigation in that time.

“I am very deeply saddened to hear this latest news about little Alesha,” he said. “It is so distressing for everyone in our community on Bute and dreadful for her family.

“On behalf of the people of Bute I extend deepest sympathy to all her family in this very tragic occurrence. I would also ask, if we can, to help the police in their efforts.”

Cllr Scoullar continued: “The police statement advising residents to take security precautions makes sense - because none of us here really have any trouble,” he said.

“While I lock my car, some of my neighbours leave their keys in the ignition. This is such a trusting and caring community, like most island communities are. That’s what makes it so deeply shocking.”

One former resident, who asked not to be named, said: “A murder like this is unheard of. The only incidents you generally hear of are petty crime, theft, and road traffic offences.”

Rev. Owain Jones, parish minister at the United Church of Bute, told the BBC: “I think my personal reaction is just the same as everybody else’s - I am stunned.

“And I am lost for words and this is not something we are used to in our community. Whatever it is, it’s just tragic.”