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Friday, 6 July 2018

Tragic Alesha, six, was 'raped and murdered before her body was dumped in woodland on the Isle of Bute' - as family friend, 16, appears in court over her killing

  • Boy, 16, is understood to have been known to victim Alesha MacPhail's family
  • Little girl's body found in woodland in grounds of abandoned hotel on Monday
  • Teenager was arrested on suspicion of murder before being charged yesterday
  • Appeared at Greenock Sheriff Court today after being kept in custody overnight
  • Prosecutors today revealed he has been charged with both rape and murder 
A teenager has appeared in court charged with the rape and murder of six-year-old Alesha MacPhail who was found dead on the Isle of Bute.
The 16-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, is understood to have been known to victim Alesha's family.
The little girl's body was found in woodland in the grounds of an abandoned hotel on Monday. 
The teenager appeared at Greenock Sheriff Court today after being kept in custody overnight.
The hearing was private, but the boy is understood to have made no plea and was remanded in custody ahead of an expected second court appearance next week.  
The charges, released for the first time today, mean prosecutors believe Alesha was raped before she was killed. 
Yesterday, Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston paid tribute to Alesha's family and thanked the community of Bute for their assistance with the 'challenging' inquiry.
'I'd like to take this opportunity to personally thank Alesha's family who have shown incredible bravery through what has been an unimaginable ordeal during these past few days,' he said.
The body of Alesha MacPhail was found in woodland in the grounds of a former hotel
The body of Alesha MacPhail was found in woodland in the grounds of a former hotel
A 16-year-old boy arrived at court today after he was charged in connection with the murder
A 16-year-old boy arrived at court today after he was charged in connection with the murder
The youngster's body was found in the grounds of a hotel and prosecutors believe she was raped before death
The youngster's body was found in the grounds of a hotel and prosecutors believe she was raped before death
Police are pictured at the search site where the six-year-old's body was found following her death 
Police are pictured at the search site where the six-year-old's body was found following her death 
The boy appeared at Greenock Sheriff Court today after being kept in custody overnight
The boy appeared at Greenock Sheriff Court today after being kept in custody overnight
The teenager was arrested on suspicion of murder before being charged yesterday
The teenager was arrested on suspicion of murder before being charged yesterday
'I'd also like to thank local people for all their support and assistance during this major investigation on the island.
'The response to our appeals was significant both from those living here and the wider community of Scotland.'
Alesha's body was found by a member of the public at 9am on Monday morning. She had been reported missing just hours earlier when her family found she was not in her bed at 6.25am.
Alesha had been staying with her paternal grandparents Calum MacPhail, 49, and Angela King, 46, and father Robert MacPhail, 25, at a seafront flat near Rothesay on the Isle of Bute.
The six-year-old lived in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, with her mother, who is estranged from Mr MacPhail, but spent holidays and weekends with her father on Bute.
Police search streets and houses on the Isle of Bute yesterday as part of the investigation
Police search streets and houses on the Isle of Bute yesterday as part of the investigation
A police officer searches a garden on the Isle of Bute yesterday after Alesha's body was found
A police officer searches a garden on the Isle of Bute yesterday after Alesha's body was found
Police forensic teams were seen at the house were Alesha had been staying on the Isle of Bute
Police forensic teams were seen at the house were Alesha had been staying on the Isle of Bute
Her murder has rocked the community, which is home to just 6,500 people. It is the biggest investigation ever undertaken by police on the island, which is 15 miles long and three miles wide.
Investigations continued at the seafront flat yesterday, and on the beach in front the property, where officers could be seen combing the sand with sticks.
Det Supt Houston added: 'Officers and staff from across Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority have been involved in what has been a difficult and challenging investigation during which they have worked tirelessly to bring us to where we are today.
'Incidents such as this are extremely rare and, while the police investigation will continue, I hope that today's announcement brings some reassurance to everyone in the local community.
'Recent events will have shocked communities across Scotland, no more so than on Bute and in Airdrie. Argyll and Bute and North Lanarkshire councils have services available for those who may have been affected.'

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