A 16-year-old boy faces a life sentence after being found guilty of the “bestial” rape and murder of a six-year-old girl while she visited her grandparents on holiday.
The teenager took Alesha MacPhail from the bed where she was sleeping on the Isle of Bute on July 2 last year and inflicted horrific injuries before dumping her body in woodland.
A jury at the High Court in Glasgow took three hours to find the boy, who cannot be named due to his age, guilty unanimously, following a nine-day trial.
Judge Lord Matthews told him he had committed some of the “wickedest, most evil crimes this court has ever heard”.
He told the boy: “It will be obvious to anyone following this trial that Alesha MacPhail was a sweet, angelic, innocent girl. She came to Rothesay looking forward to spending a few weeks’ holiday with her father, his partner and her grandparents.”
He said that Alesha would, at the end of her trip, have gone home to mother Georgina Lochrane in Airdrie with tales of playing on the beach and finding interesting things in rockpools.
Lord Matthews said: “Instead of that you came into her life, you stole that life and committed some of the wickedest, most evil crimes this court has ever heard.”
He warned the boy, who will be sentenced next month, that “your release may never come”.
Prosecutor Iain McSporran QC said after the verdict: “The loss of such a young child would be hard to bear in any circumstances, but to have her taken in the bestial manner in which Alesha MacPhail lost her life is unfathomable.”
The trial heard Alesha was days into her summer holiday with father Robert MacPhail, 26, and grandparents Angela King and Calum MacPhail when she was snatched from her bed by the boy, who tried to blame her father’s girlfriend Toni McLachlan, 18, for the crime.
His semen was found on the schoolgirl, and he claimed she must have planted it there after having sexual intercourse with him.
Mr McSporran said he hoped the guilty verdict would remove any doubt that she could have been involved.
“She had nothing whatsoever to do with this awful crime,” he said.
In a statement issued by Police Scotland, Alesha’s family said: “We can’t believe that we will never see our wee angel Alesha again. We miss her so much.
“We hope that the boy who took her from us is jailed for a long time because of what he has done to our family.
“Alesha may be gone from our lives but she will always be in our hearts.”
Georgina Lochrane, said: “Words cannot express just how devastated I am to have lost my beautiful, happy, smiley wee girl.
“I am glad that the boy who did this has finally been brought to justice and that he will not be able to inflict the pain on another family that he has done to mine.
“Alesha, I love you so much, my wee pal. I will miss you forever.”
Pathologist John Williams told the court Alesha had 117 separate injuries, and a post-mortem examination he conducted indicated she had died from “significant and forceful pressure to her neck and face”.
He agreed the injuries to her private parts were “catastrophic” – more severe than any he had ever seen before – and were at least partially inflicted while she was still alive.