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Alesha MacPhail’s killer has prison sentence reduced

Aaron Campbell was handed handed a life sentence with a minimum of 27 years but this was cut to 24 years by three judges on Tuesday.

A picture of Alesha MacPhail among tributes to the young girl (John Linton/PA)
A picture of Alesha MacPhail among tributes to the young girl (John Linton/PA)

By Douglas Barrie, PA Scotland

The prison sentence for the teenager who abducted, raped and murdered Alesha MacPhail has been reduced by three years.

Aaron Campbell took the six-year-old from her bed at her grandparents’ home on the Isle of Bute on July 2 last year.

Earlier this year, the teenager, now 17, was found guilty at the High Court in Glasgow and handed a life sentence with a minimum of 27 years.

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Aaron Campbell will serve 24 years in prison (Police Scotland/PA)

On Tuesday, three judges ruled the sentence should be reduced to 24 years on account of his age at the time of the murder – he was 16.

The ruling from Lord Drummond Young, Lord Menzies and Lord Justice Clerk said: “Against the cases to which we have made reference, a punishment part in excess of 20 years was plainly merited.

“We have concluded that a punishment part of 24 years would be appropriate to reflect the appellant’s youth.

“We will accordingly allow the appeal to the extent of substituting that period for the sentence imposed.”

They added: “As with all punishment parts, this is not an indication of the date when the appellant will be released.

“It specifies rather the period which must pass before the appellant may even apply for parole.

“As the trial judge had observed … ‘whether (the appellant) will ever be released will be for others to determine but as matters stand a lot of work will have to be done to change (the appellant) before that could be considered – it may even be impossible’.”

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Georgina Lochrane, Alesha’s mother, at the High Court in Edinburgh (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The appeal was first heard in August at the Criminal Appeal Court in Edinburgh, with Alesha’s parents Robert MacPhail and Georgina Lochrane in the gallery.

Campbell was linked into the courtroom via video, showing no emotion during the hearing.

During the nine-day trial in March, Campbell tried to convince the jury he had sex with Toni McLachlan, the girlfriend of Mr MacPhail, on the night of the murder.

He later confessed the crime to those assessing him ahead of the sentencing, saying he was “quite satisfied by the murder”.

Alesha, from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, had been staying with her family on Bute during the summer holidays.

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Georgina Lochrane hugging Alesha’s uncle Calum MacPhail at the Coats Funeral Home (Lesley Martin/PA)

In an interview with ITV News, Alesha’s uncle Calum MacPhail said he was losing any faith in the justice system to protect people.

He said: “It’s very frustrating and hard to put into words how angry, upset and disappointed I am in the current justice system, one that would allow someone like him to have an appeal and then to grant that appeal and then grant him three years less that what he was already given.

“The fact that he lied about it and how he’s getting three years off – there’s nothing we can go to turn round and say ‘do you know what, that’s acceptable’.

“The justice system has been give, give, give to him and take away from us.”

This is one of the most vile criminals in Scotland, and he should not be enjoying having time shaved off his sentence. If anything, he should be looking at an even longer stint Liam Kerr MSP

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr called it “a quite disgraceful outcome”.

He said: “This is one of the most vile criminals in Scotland and he should not be enjoying having time shaved off his sentence.

“If anything, he should be looking at an even longer stint.

“Yet again, Scotland’s justice system has come down favourably on the side of the criminal and it will cause massive upset to the victim’s family.”

PA

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