Alesha MacPhail: Woman denies killing six-year-old schoolgirl

Alesha MacPhailImage copyright Facebook
Image caption The body of Alesha MacPhail was discovered in the grounds of a former hotel on 2 July last year

A woman named by a murder accused as the person who killed six-year-old Alesha MacPhail has denied being involved in her death.

Toni McLachlan was giving evidence during the trial of a 16-year-old boy, who denies abducting, raping and murdering Alesha last July.

The teenager, who cannot be named because of his age, has claimed it was Ms McLachlan who killed Alesha.

But Ms McLachlan told the court that she loved the little girl “to pieces”.

Alesha’s naked body was found in the grounds of a former hotel in Rothesay on the Isle of Bute on the morning of 2 July last year.

Giving evidence from behind a screen at the High Court in Glasgow, 18-year-old Ms McLachlan said she had been dating Alesha’s father Robert MacPhail, 26, for about two years.

At the time of the murder she was living with Mr MacPhail’s parents in a three-bedroom flat on Ardbeg Road, Rothesay.

Alesha was days into a three-week summer break on the island when she was killed.

The relationship between Mr MacPhail and Alesha’s mother Georgina Lochrane in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, had broken down months after she was born.

Ms McLachlan said she only learned on Monday, on the opening day of the trial, that she had been implicated by the accused.

Image copyright Spindrift
Image caption Alesha’s father, Robert MacPhail, told the court on Tuesday that he had sold cannabis to the accused

Prosecutor Iain McSporran QC asked the witness: “Did you have anything to do with the murder of Alesha MacPhail?”

She replied: “No.”

Ms McLachlan also told the court she dealt cannabis with Mr MacPhail and had supplied the drug to the accused and his sister.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, Alesha’s father said he had put her to bed at about 22:30 or 23:00 on the night before she was allegedly taken, before going to the bedroom he shared with Ms McLachlan, where they “watched some porn” before going to sleep.

They were woken the next morning by his parents, who told him Alesha was not in her bed. They searched the house before taking the hunt outside to her favourite places, including the local park.

Also on Tuesday, Alesha’s grandmother Angela King, 47, told the court Alesha and Ms McLachlan got on “great” and that the youngster called her “Toto”.

The trial continues.

Why is the BBC not naming the accused?

It is illegal in Scotland to publish the name, address, school or any other information which could identify anyone under the age of 18 who is the accused, victim or witness in a criminal case

This law applies to social media as well as to websites, newspapers and TV and radio programmes.

However, the name of victims who have died can be published – so the BBC and other outlets are able to identify Alesha MacPhail.

What is a special defence of incrimination?

Ahead of their trial, the accused can lodge a special defence which will result in them being acquitted if it is accepted by the court.

These defences include self-defence (they were defending themselves from attack), alibi (they were somewhere else when the crime was committed) and mental disorder (the accused is not responsible for their actions because they were suffering from a psychiatric condition).

In this case, the accused has lodged a special defence of incrimination – meaning he has claimed that someone else (Toni McLachlan) was responsible for Alesha’s death.

It will be for the jury to decide whether or not they accept this special defence after hearing the evidence in the case.

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