Police launch murder inquiry into island death of six-year-old Alesha MacPhail

A murder inquiry has been launched following the death of a young schoolgirl on a Scottish island.

Alesha MacPhail, six, was reported missing from Rothesay on the Isle of Bute at 6.25am on Monday.

Her body was later found in woodland on the site of a former hotel in Ardbeg Road by a member of the public.

Following the results of a post-mortem examination on Tuesday, Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston confirmed that Police Scotland is treating the youngster’s death as murder.

He told a media conference on the island: “Alesha’s family is utterly devastated by what has happened and the news we’ve had to give them this evening.”

The detective said Alesha had just started her summer holidays and had travelled to Bute to stay with relatives.

He repeated a call for members of the public to come forward with any information that might assist officers.

Mr Houston said: “I am still keen to speak to people who were involved in the search that was conducted in the early hours of Monday morning.

“I am keen to find out who was there who has maybe not engaged with police yet, what areas they searched, and anything they may have seen or heard at the time.

“I’m also keen to speak to anyone who was in the area of Ardbeg Road from late on the Sunday evening into the early hours of the Monday morning.

“I’m really keen to hear from anybody who has seen or heard anything unusual from that time to come forward.”

Tributes have been paid to the little girl, who was a pupil at Chapelside Primary School in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire.

Flowers, teddies and balloons have been left on the pavement outside a house on Ardbeg Road, with messages attached reading “sleep tight little angel” and “good night little angel”.

Part of the beach front and a shelter opposite the house remained cordoned off with police tape, while cars were being diverted from the end of Ardbeg Road.

Four officers in white overalls entered the back garden of the house on Tuesday afternoon while another took photographs of the property which is thought to be made up of three flats.

Anyone with information is asked to call officers at the major investigations teams via 101, quoting incident no 0695 of 2 July 2018.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Jane Barlow / PA Wire.