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Teenager arrested over island murder of Alesha MacPhail

The schoolgirl’s body was found in woodland on the Isle of Bute on Monday.

A teenager has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of six-year-old Alesha MacPhail on the Isle of Bute.

The schoolgirl was staying with relatives on the island when she was reported missing in the early hours of Monday. Her body was found in woodland near her grandmother’s home by Rothesay hours later.

Police Scotland said on Wednesday evening a male under the age of 18 had been arrested.

Officers repeated a call for information as officers continue their investigation into the murder which has stunned the small community.

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Floral tributes left outside a house on Ardbeg Road (John Linton/PA)

Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston said: “The response to our earlier public appeals has been significant.

“However, despite this evening’s major development, I am still appealing for anyone who was in the Ardbeg Road area of Bute on Sunday night or in the early hours of Monday and who may have information about Alesha’s death to contact us.

“Anyone who has CCTV at their home or business, or indeed any motorists with dashcam footage which might help with our investigation, are also urged to get in touch.”

Alesha, a pupil at Chapelside Primary School in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, was a few days into a three-week break on the island when she was found dead in a wooded area at around 9am on Monday.

A post-mortem examination confirmed the “smiley, happy girl” had been murdered.

On Wednesday there was increased police activity at the property on Ardbeg Road where Alesha had been staying.

More than a dozen officers entered the garden with long sticks to search the grounds and bushes.

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A recovery vehicle arrives to remove a car (John Linton/PA)

A recovery truck arrived during the afternoon and removed a black Dacia car from the rear of the house.

A Police Scotland spokesman had earlier confirmed a number of items, including a vehicle, had been recovered as part of the investigation.

The first car is believed to have been removed by officers on Monday or Tuesday.

Islanders have been warned to be vigilant about the safety of their children and the security of their homes as investigations continue.

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(PA Graphics)

Local minister the Rev Owain Jones said: “We’re all absolutely staggered, we have no words for this and it’s beyond any power of words to express.

“We’re all just really sitting in a kind of shared stunned silence just trying to uphold each other.

“Bute is one of these places that is incredibly safe, you take all sorts of things for granted here and don’t panic if you forget to lock the house or whatever.

“It’s not a remote island in the classic sense – it’s only 90 minutes to Glasgow – but even so it is an island and we all know each other at least by sight, and it’s an extremely safe place and there is no context for this.”

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