Alesha MacPhail murder: Bute residents told ‘stay vigilant’ as car is seized

Tributes have been left outside the house where 6-year-old Alesha MacPhail had been staying. Pic: SWNS
Tributes have been left outside the house where 6-year-old Alesha MacPhail had been staying. Pic: SWNS

Police are warning residents on Bute to remain vigilant after confirming that they have seized a car as investigations continue into the murder of Alesha Macphail.

Police investigating the murder of the six-year-old girl say they have had a “very good” response to public appeals and are pursuing a number of lines of inquiry.

It was confirmed today that officers had seized a number of items, including a car, as part of the murder investigation.

The car is believed to have been removed by officers on Monday or Tuesday.

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

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “The response from the public following our appeals has been very good and we would like to thank those who have taken the time to contact us with information so far.

Police are pursuing a number of lines of inquiry. Pic: SWNS

Police are pursuing a number of lines of inquiry. Pic: SWNS

“A number of lines of inquiry are being followed up, however we continue to appeal to those who have not yet spoken to police and may have information to get in contact with us.

“We would like to speak to anyone who may have CCTV at their home or business or any motorists who have dashcam footage which might help with our investigation.”

Alesha had gone missing from her grandparents’ home on Ardbeg Road in the early hours of Monday morning. Forensic officers were seen searching the home earlier this morning.

The alarm was quickly raised, and locals helped to search for the six-year-old, who was found around 9am in the grounds of a disused hotel, around 20 minutes from the home of Alesha’s grandparents.

The house where the youngster was staying remained closed off yesterday, as police were seen removing bags from the building.

Residents were told by officers to remain vigilant and ensure that their homes are secure amid fears that Alesha’s killer may still be at large on the island.

‘Horrendous act’

Chief Superintendent Hazel Hendren, Divisional Commander of Argyll and West Dunbartonshire, said: “Every available resource from across Police Scotland is being made available to this major investigation. Our absolute priority is catching the person responsible for this horrendous act as quickly as possible.

“I understand that there will be a high level of concern among people living in this close-knit community but I want to reassure people that everything possible is being done.

“Incidents such as this are extremely rare but we are still in the early stages of this investigation and we would ask people to be vigilant about their children and also their household security.

“Additional police officers and other resources have travelled to the island and high-visibility patrols have been stepped up, with these additional officers patrolling 24 hours a day.

“If anyone has any concerns, or has any information, they can approach these officers. We also have an incident caravan situated on the island which is staffed 24 hours a day.”

Shocked and subdued

The atmosphere on the island is shocked and subdued, as rumours continue to swirl about the circumstances of the Primary 2 pupil’s death.

Det Supt Stuart Houston, from Police Scotland’s major investigation team, said: “I am still keen to speak to people who were involved in the search that was conducted just after 6am on Monday.

“I’m keen to find out who was there that has not engaged with the police yet, what areas they maybe searched and anything they may have seen or heard at the time.

“I am also now really keen to speak to anyone who was in the area of Ardbeg Road from late on the Sunday evening, into the early hours of Monday morning.”

When asked if reports that Alesha could have sleep walked out of the home she shared with her grandparents, Det Supt Houston simply replied that detectives were ‘exploring a number of lines of inquiry’.

Asked if holidaymakers and local residents should be concerned about a potential killer on the loose, Det Supt Houston said they should take care and report anything suspicious.