Alesha MacPhail trial gets underway

Alesha MacPhail.
Alesha MacPhail.

A boy accused of abducting, raping and murdering a six year-old girl on Bute is blaming a young woman for the crime, it has emerged.

The 16 year-old went on trial on Monday charged with killing Alesha MacPhail in July last year.

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

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

The teenager – who cannot be named for legal reason – has pled not guilty at the High Court in Glasgow.

His legal team – led by QC Brian McConnachie – have lodged a special defence on his behalf. It is claimed that the crime was committed not by him, but by a Toni Louise McLachlan.

Prosecutors allege the boy was armed with a knife when he took Alesha from her bed at a house in Ardbeg Road in Rothesay.

It is claimed the boy then carried the schoolgirl to the site of the former Kyles Hydropathic Hotel on the island.

The indictment states he took off Alesha’s clothes, shook her violently before placing his hands over her nose, mouth and around her neck.

The boy is said to have “applied pressure” to her face, inflicted injuries by “means unknown” with prosecutors alleging he went on to rape and murder Alesha.

The teenager also faces a separate charge of attempting to defeat the ends of justice. It is alleged he went to another house in Ardbeg Road before disposing of the clothes he had worn and then taking a shower to remove blood from his body.

This is said to have been done in a bid to “destroy or conceal evidence”.

Prosecutor Iain McSporran QC read out two joint minutes – evidence agreed between the Crown and the body’s lawyers.

Jurors were told Alesha’s naked body was found at 8.54am on July 2 in the grounds of the former Kyles Hydropathic Hotel.

She had been found by a man there.

The child was pronounced dead around 30 minutes later at 9.23am.

Mr McSporran: “She had been murdered. Following a post mortem examination of her remains, the cause of death was established as ‘pressure to neck and face’.”

The court also heard it was Alesha’s gran Angela King who had reported the girl missing at 6.23am on July 2.

Lord Matthews told jurors the case is likely to “arouse strong emotion” but that they were to adopt a “professional detachment” to the evidence.

The trial continues.