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Youth due in court over Alesha MacPhail death

A 16-year-old has been charged after the child’s body was found on the Isle of Bute.

A 16-year-old youth is due to appear in court after the death of schoolgirl Alesha MacPhail on the Isle of Bute.

The suspect was arrested two days after the body of Alesha, six, was discovered in woodland near her grandparents’ home.

He will face charges at Greenock Sheriff Court on Friday.

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A van carrying a 16-year-old charged over the death of Alesha MacPhail, six, arrives at Greenock Sheriff Court (John Linton/PA)

Alesha was at the start of a three-week break on the island in the Firth of Clyde, west of Glasgow, when she was reported missing in the early hours of Monday.

A murder probe was launched following the results of a post-mortem examination.

Officers have not specified how the pupil at Chapelside Primary School in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, died.

Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston said: “I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank Alesha’s family who have shown incredible bravery through what has been an unimaginable ordeal during these past few days.

“I’d also like to thank local people for all their support and assistance during this major investigation on the island. The response to our appeals was significant both from those living here and the wider community of Scotland.

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Police stand outside Greenock Sheriff Court ahead of the youth’s appearance (John Linton/PA)

“The people of the Isle of Bute have rallied together since Alesha was first reported missing on Monday morning and I would stress that social media speculation relating to members of the community is both misleading and inaccurate.

“The family has also received considerable support from Alesha’s home town of Airdrie, which was reflected in the memorial service held at her school.”

Officers confirmed they had made an arrest in connection with Alesha’s death on Wednesday evening and the 16-year-old was charged the following day.

Mr Houston said: “Officers and staff from across Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority have been involved in what has been a difficult and challenging investigation during which they have worked tirelessly to bring us to where we are today.

“As I have said previously, incidents such as this are extremely rare and while the police investigation will continue, I hope that today’s announcement brings some reassurance to everyone in the local community.

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

“It is understandable that recent events will have shocked communities across Scotland, no more so than on Bute and in Airdrie.

“Argyll and Bute and North Lanarkshire councils have services available for those who may have been affected.”

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