Teenager to appear in court over murder of girl (6) on Scottish island
Schoolgirl staying with relatives on Isle of Bute when reported missing on Monday
A police officer guard as a search takes place at a house on Ardbeg Road on the Isle of Bute in Scotland. Photograph: John Linton/PA Wire
A 16-year-old boy has been charged in connection with the death of six-year-old Alesha MacPhail, whose body was discovered on the Isle of Bute in Scotland on Monday morning. He remains in custody and is expected to appear at Greenock sheriff court on Friday.
The schoolgirl, originally from Airdrie in Lanarkshire, was reported missing from her grandparents’ home near Rothesay at around 6.30am on Monday, sparking a frantic search. Her body was found in woodland little more than two hours later.
Det Supt Stuart Houston said: “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.
“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.”
The announcement came at the end of a fourth day of intense police activity on the popular holiday island. Earlier in the day, officers could be seen searching the beach front with long sticks.
On Wednesday evening, about 100 pupils, parents and teachers attended a vigil for Alesha at Chapelside primary school, Airdrie, which the girl had attended since August 2016.
Head teacher Wendy Davie, who led the moments of silence, had previously described Alesha as a “happy, smiley” girl. In a statement, Ms Davie said: “She 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.”
Referring to suggestions on social media that the girl’s death might be linked to the presence of resettled Syrian refugees on the island, Det Supt Houston added: “The people of the Isle of Bute have rallied together since Alesha was first reported missing on Monday morning and I would stress that social media speculation relating to members of the community is both misleading and inaccurate.
“The family has also received considerable support from Alesha’s hometown of Airdrie which was reflected in the memorial service held at her school.”
Describing the investigation as “difficult and challenging”, Det Supt Houston went on the reassure the community that “incidents such as this are extremely rare”. – Guardian