Body found on Bute believed to be that of missing girl Alesha MacPhail
The six-year-old was reported missing on Monday morning.
A body found in woodland on a small island is believed to be that of a missing six-year-old girl, police have said.
Alesha MacPhail, from Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, was reported missing at 6.25am on Monday.
The body of a young girl was found in woodland on the site of a former hotel in Ardbeg Road by a member of the public at around 9am.
Formal identification is still to take place but it is believed to be that of Alesha MacPhail.
Police are treating the death as unexplained and have launched a major investigation.
They urged anyone with information to contact them even if they might think it is something insignificant.
Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston, from Police Scotland’s major investigation teams, said: “This death of a six-year-old child has shocked the tight-knit community of Rothesay and it is imperative that we find out what has happened.
“This investigation is at its very early stages, however I am appealing for information in order to piece together Alesha’s last-known movements.
“We know that once the alarm was raised about her being missing, there were a number of local people who assisted with the search.
“I would like to speak to anyone who was involved in that search who have not yet been spoken to by the police.
“This is to ensure that everyone that was in the vicinity of Ardbeg Road at the time is traced as they may have critical information which could assist with the investigation.
“I must reiterate that this death is still being treated as unexplained at this time, however I would like to reassure the public that this type of incident is rare.
“I understand that there are real concerns in the community, however please be assured that a team of detectives are working on this investigation to ascertain the circumstances leading up to death of this young child. Specially-trained officers are supporting the family during this incredibly difficult time.
“If anyone has any information, please contact police with that information. You might think it is insignificant, however please let us be the judge of that, and contact us immediately.”
High Road in Arbeg, near Rothesay, was shut by a police cordon and a floral tribute had been laid near police accident signs.
A police car blocked the road and several other police vehicles could be seen in the area.
A separate cordon has been set up outside numbers 50-53 Ardbeg Road and police tape has also been set up at the seafront on the opposite side of the street.
Messages on the floral tributes laid outside the homes, read “sleep tight little angel” and “forever in our thoughts”.
June McKenzie, who lives near Alesha’s grandmother on Ardbeg Road, was one of those searching for the youngster.
She said: “We were woken up at 7am and we were told she was missing, could we look for her.
“I looked in the garage and workshop and we saw that the search and rescue helicopter was out.
“I can’t believe it. Her poor parents and gran. It’s just appalling – somebody that young.
“The island’s just down and will be for some time. Everybody just sticks together.”
Superintendent Brian Gibson said: “Our officers have been working very closely with the detectives from the major investigation teams on this inquiry.
“I’d like to reassure the public that whilst they will be very concerned, additional officers will be in the area if anyone has any specific concerns, so please speak to them.
“Similarly, if anyone has any information they wish to provide to police, they can do so by speaking to any of these officers.”
Anyone with information is asked to call officers at the Major Investigations Teams via 101 quoting incident no 0695 of 2 July 2018