Teen charged over six-year-old’s murder
A TEENAGE boy has been charged over the death of a six-year-old girl in Scotland.
Alesha MacPhail was found dead in woodland just hours after vanishing from her grandparents' home on the Isle of Bute, an island in Scotland, on Monday (local time), The Sun reports.
The teen, understood to be known to the family, was arrested on Wednesday evening after a huge police appeal for information.
"We can confirm that a 16 year-old male has, this afternoon, been charged in connection with the death of six year-old Alesha MacPhail, whose body was discovered on Monday on the Isle of Bute," Scotland Police tweeted.
Alesha was reported missing from the house in Port Bannatyne, where she was staying with her grandparents and father, Robert MacPhail, 25.
Her body was found by a member of the public less than three hours later, around 1.5km away in woodland on the site of a former hotel.
A heartbroken relative, who did not want to be named, told The Sun it is "the worst possible scenario we could have imagined".
"Everyone is numb," the family member said.
"My neighbour is so concerned because he has two children and they are terrified.
"It's the holidays and there wasn't a child playing last night. And walking around the streets it's disturbing to think it could have been that person walking past you."
Alesha's mum, Georgina Lochrane, 23, was on the mainland at the time.
She broke down as she placed a picture of her daughter in her school uniform at a makeshift shrine on the garden wall of her grandparents' house yesterday.
Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston, who is the senior investigating officer in Alesha's murder, described the shocking crime as "incomprehensible".
"Alesha had lots of friends who will no doubt find it very difficult to comprehend why they will never see their friend again.
"Like any other six-year-old, Alesha was looking forward to enjoying her holidays from primary school and was only a few days into a three week summer break visiting relatives on the island.
"For such a young girl to have her life taken away is incomprehensible."
Ms Lochrane, who is also the mother to a four-year-old girl, paused for a brief moment to read some of the kind-words left by locals at the makeshift shrine.
She then left sobbing in a police car.
The shrine sits at the home of grandparents Angela King and Calum MacPhail - where Alesha's dad also lives.
Mr MacPhail wept as he also left flowers for his daughter. He had to be supported by his partner, Toni McLachlan, as he looked as dozens of tributes left by a community in shock.
Chief Superintendent Hazel Hendren, Divisional Commander of Argyll and West Dunbartonshire, said the investigation is still ongoing.
"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.
"The island community needs to pull together at times like this and we need their help - anyone with any information, please come forward. We are working with a number of partner agencies during this inquiry, including local authorities and health boards."
Alesha's devastated mother begged for information about her daughter after she discovered she went missing. Ms King, her daughter's grandmother, also made a public plea.
"Alesha has gone missing from our house please help look for her," she wrote, alongside an adorable picture of the schoolgirl.
Tragically, Ms Lochrane made the heartbreaking discovery her young daughter had been found dead after other users posted links to news reports of the tragedy.
A potential line of inquiry, The Sun reports, is that Alesha may have had a problem with sleepwalking.
A local bus driver, who gave his name only as Peter, told The Times that Ms King and Mr MacPhail are a nice family and very well known on the island.
"It's really not clear what happened, but I know wee Alesha was known to sleepwalk," he said.
A huge search was launched after the grandparents alerted police. Locals scoured the area as a police helicopter hovered overhead.
The family's flat, which is close to the seafront, was taped off as forensics teams swooped.
A cordon was also thrown around a bus stop opposite the home, and run all the way down to the water.
Police stopped traffic entering a winding track leading up to a hill at the rear of the house, while investigators combed an expanse of nearby forest.
Alesha's body was eventually discovered by a member of the public in woodland on the site of the abandoned Kyles of Bute Hydropathic Hotel, which was demolished in the 1970s.
The area where her body was found is heavily overgrown.
Tributes have flooded in for Alesha from devastated friends and family.
"I have been up all night thinking of how to word this as I have received many messages in the last 20 hours or so," her uncle CJ MacPhail wrote.
"As some of you already may know I was informed yesterday that my beautiful niece was taken from us far to soon.
"Alesha was the most wonderful niece I could have asked for, she always brought happiness to my day and anyone she was around."
Stunned locals on the island, which has a tiny community of around 7500 people, have also paid tribute to the blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl.
"The whole of the Island of Bute is in complete shock," one resident said.
"Alesha's father Robert is just a brilliant guy and worshipped the ground she walked on. They were happy together. This doesn't happen here.
"The whole community will stand together I know that. That is what the island is like."
The principal of Alesha's school, Chapelside Primary in Airdrie, Scotland, has released an emotional statement about their pupil.
"[Alesha] loved being at school and enjoyed all aspects of literacy, in particular writing. She was such a perfectionist in her handwriting and was very proud of her work," Wendy Davie said.
"Alesha was very friendly and she welcomed everyone first thing in the morning at breakfast club. She was a very considerate child who loved being part of a group and she was popular with all the other children and was a smiley and happy young girl."
This article originally appeared in The Sun and was republished with permission.