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Jury told ‘mountain of evidence’ against Alesha MacPhail murder accused

Advocate depute Iain McSporran QC has invited jurors to convict the 16-year-old boy of abducting, raping and murdering the six-year-old.

Alesha MacPhail was found dead after going missing on the Isle of Bute last summer (PA)
Alesha MacPhail was found dead after going missing on the Isle of Bute last summer (PA)

There is a “mountain” of evidence against a teenager accused of abducting, raping and murdering a six-year-old girl, a jury has been told.

Advocate depute Iain McSporran QC said the 16-year-old accused, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had told a “pack of lies” from the witness box at the High Court in Glasgow.

But the teenager’s defence lawyer, Brian McConnachie QC, urged the jury to acquit his client, questioning why the boy would abduct, rape and murder six-year-old Alesha MacPhail having “never met her in his life”.

The schoolgirl had arrived at the home her grandparents shared with her father, Robert or Rab MacPhail, on the Isle of Bute for the school holidays shortly before she went missing on July 2 last year.

Her body was found in woods on the island hours later.

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Alesha MacPhail was found dead in woodland on the Isle of Bute last July (Lesley Martin/PA)

Addressing the jury in his closing speech on the eighth day of the trial, Mr McSporran invited them to convict the 16-year-old, saying the only “true” verdict would be to find him guilty.

He added: “We say he raped and murdered her and that’s the verdict we seek.”

He said the evidence “points squarely” to her being abducted and taken to where she was found by the person who killed her, which he claimed was the accused.

Mr McSporran said the timing of a figure being caught on CCTV, and who some witnesses said appeared to be carrying something, “fits perfectly” with this version of events.

The teenager has said he lied to police about his actions when Alesha went missing, claiming he did so to protect the woman he blames for the killing – Toni McLachlan, the partner of Alesha’s father.

He has lodged a special defence of incrimination blaming Ms McLachlan, 18, for the crime.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, he told the court he and Ms McLachlan had met up and had sex early on July 2 but he did not want to tell police this as he feared it would get back to Mr MacPhail and he would “hurt” Ms McLachlan.

Mr McSporran said on Wednesday the accused was telling “a pack of lies then [to the police] and a pack of lies in the witness box yesterday”.

He put it to the jury that they had heard no evidence implicating Ms McLachlan in the crime but a “mountain of evidence” linking the accused to it.

He also highlighted the accused telling the court Ms McLachlan could have been “fantasising about killing Alesha for months”.

Mr McSporran said: “Where did that come from? Who’s been fantasising?”

He said the accused’s claim that Ms McLachlan took the condom the two allegedly used on July 2, went back to the house where she had been staying with her partner, Alesha and the girl’s grandparents, abducted the schoolgirl, carried her to the woods, smothered her to death and then planted the accused’s semen inside her was a “preposterous story”.

Mr McSporran added that DNA matching the accused was “pretty well all over” Alesha’s body and clothes and said the Crown’s case is his semen was found inside the six-year-old as he had raped her.

Mr McConnachie told the jury in his closing speech that Ms McLachlan’s friend agreed in her evidence earlier on Wednesday that the 18-year-old was “jealous” of Alesha and felt “threatened” by the time and attention Mr MacPhail paid his daughter.

Addressing jurors, the lawyer said: “You might think that there is a solid basis on the evidence that Toni McLachlan might wish harm on Alesha MacPhail.”

Mr McConnachie said the question the jury needs to address is whether they are satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the accused “abducted, raped and murdered a six-year-old girl he had never met before in his life” before “calmly” walking back home and “wandering around his garden like he didn’t have a care in the world” – as the lawyer said was shown on CCTV – before going to bed.

“My submission is the answer to that question has to be no and the verdict has to be one of acquittal,” he added.

He highlighted that no DNA from the accused was found in the house where Alesha had been staying and none of the schoolgirl’s DNA or blood was found in the teenager’s home.

The accused denies abducting, raping and murdering Alesha.

A charge he faced of attempting to hide evidence was dropped by the Crown on Wednesday.

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Toni McLachlan, the partner of Robert MacPhail (behind), outside the High Court in Glasgow (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Giving evidence last Wednesday, Ms McLachlan denied being responsible for Alesha’s death, saying she “loved” the schoolgirl.

She also denied suggestions by the defence that she had sex with the accused on July 2, then planted his semen on Alesha, before “attacking and brutalising her” and murdering her.

The case continues.

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