A 16-year-old male has been charged for the rape and murder of 6-year-old Alesha MacPhail on the small Scottish island of Bute.
The accused teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, made no plea or declaration when he appeared before Greenock Sheriff Court in private, The Sunreports.
He has been remanded in custody and is expected to appear before the court again next week.
The girl’s body was found in woodland a few miles from the house she had been staying in with her father and grandparents in Port Bannatyne by a member of the public shortly after she was reported missing, with the killing leaving islanders in shock.
“Everyone is numb,” commented one relative, who wished to remain anonymous.
“My neighbour is so concerned because he has two children and they are terrified… It’s the holidays and there wasn’t a child playing last night.”
It was not known that Alesha had been raped until the charge was read out in court Friday.The horrific murder of six-year-old Alesha is not the first time the small Island of Bute has hit the headlines recently. A sizeable contingent of Syrian migrants was settled on the island in 2016, which has a population of only a little over 6,000 and relatively high unemployment. There is no suggestion that Alesha’s death is linked to the migrant community; reports only state the suspect lived locally and was known to the girl’s grandparents.
The plantation has not been especially smooth, with some migrants complaining the island is “full of old people waiting to die” and that the boredom has made them depressed.
Locals, for their part, have said the migrants tend to keep to themselves, and the situation is “very much them and us”.
While crime is low on the small island it has seen paedophile killers before, including as Charles O’Neill and his lover William Lauchlan, who abused a number of boys in Scotland and possibly Spain, and murdered a woman who found out about their crimes and threatened to expose them.