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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 7 December 2021

Murder investigation launched as body found on Isle of Bute confirmed as missing six-year-old

She was reported missing around 6.25am on Monday.

Forensic officers at the police cordon on Ardbeg Road on the Isle of Bute in Scotland
Forensic officers at the police cordon on Ardbeg Road on the Isle of Bute in Scotland
Image: Jane Barlow via PA Images

POLICE IN SCOTLAND have confirmed that a body found on Monday morning on the Isle of Bute is that of six-year-old Alesha MacPhail.

She was reported missing around 6.25am on Monday. Her body was discovered in a wooden area in Ardbeg Road, Bute on Monday.

Following a postmortem examination which took place yesterday, Police Scotland confirmed that the death is being treated as murder.

Forensic officers have been conducting enquiries at several locations in Rothesay and officers are continuing to carry out door to door enquiries and gather private and public CCTV footage for review.

They are also carrying out significant door to door enquiries in an effort to establish what may have happened to Alesha.

A number of additional officers travelled to the island yesterday to provide support to the investigation team and to continue to assist the public.

Senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston said: “Alesha’s family is utterly devastated we are continuing to provide them with the support they require at this incredibly distressing time.

Alesha had lots of friends who will no doubt find it very difficult to comprehend why they will never see their friend again. Like any other six-year-old, Alesha was looking forward to enjoying her holidays from primary school and was only a few days into a three-week summer break visiting relatives on the island.

“For such a young girl to have her life taken away is incomprehensible.”

Body found on the Isle of Bute Floral tributes are laid out at the police cordon on Ardbeg Road Source: Jane Barlow via PA Images

Appeals are continuing for those who were involved in the searches for Alesha to come forward as police said “it’s vital we know who was involved in the searches and where these were carried out”.

Officers are also appealing to anyone who has yet to speak to them to get in touch.

“Again, I would like to reiterate that I am particularly interested in speaking to anyone who was involved in the search for Alesha. What did they see? Where did they search? Please let us know. You may think that the information you hold is insignificant, however, please contact us and let us be the judge of that,” Houston said.

“Any information, however small, may help this investigation. I would urge anyone with information to contact the police as soon as possible. It is imperative that we find who is responsible for Alesha’s murder.”

Local community

Chief Superintendent Hazel Hendren, divisional commander of Argyll and West Dunbartonshire said that every resource from across Police Scotland is being made available to the investigation.

“I understand that there will be a high level of concern among people living in this close-knit community but I want to reassure people that everything possible is being done,” Hendren said.

“Incidents such as this are extremely rare but we are still in the early stages of this investigation and we would ask people to be vigilant about their children and also their household security.

The island community needs to pull together at times like this and we need their help. Anyone with information, please come forward. We are working with a number of partner agencies during this inquiry, including local authorities and health boards.

Anyone with information is asked to call officers from the Major Investigations Team on Scottish number 101, quoting incident number 0695 of Monday 2 July 2018.

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