Alesha MacPhail was smothered and had catastrophic injuries, murder trial told

The Alesha MacPhail murder trial has been told the six-year-old schoolgirl was smothered and suffered “catastrophic” injuries to her genital area.

Pathologist John Williams said the youngster suffered more severe injuries to that part of her body than he had ever seen before.

Alesha had a total of 117 separate injuries, he said.

The High Court in Glasgow was shown graphic images of these, which judge Lord Matthews warned were “distressing”.

A 16-year old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, denies abducting the schoolgirl from the home her grandparents shared with her father on the Isle of Bute, raping and murdering her and attempting to hide evidence.

Her body was found in a wooded area on the island on July 2 last year.

Dr Williams (pictured) said his post-mortem examination of her body indicated the cause of death was “significant and forceful pressure to her neck and face”.

He said the injuries to her neck and face were consistent with being gripped and those to her nose and mouth were consistent with “smothering”.

He added it was also possible her was windpipe pushed shut.

Most of the the 117 injuries were caused by the nature of the ground she was lying on, the jury was told.

Her injuries included tears to her private parts, one of which “essentially obliterated” part of her genital area and were consistent with “severe and forceful inflicted penetration”, which could have been caused by a body part or object.

Advocate depute Iain McSporran QC asked him: “Have you ever before seen injuries of these sort to the private parts?”

Dr Williams replied: “No.”

The pathologist said the soles of her feet were clean, consistent with her being picked up or otherwise taken to where she was found.

Questioned by Brian McConnachie QC, for the accused, who described Alesha’s injuries as “catastrophic”, Dr Williams said he had never been shown an object that could have caused them.

The court also heard from the accused’s mother, who said her son had been drinking with friends at home early on July 2.

She said they argued about damage to furniture and then she thought he had gone to bed.

The following day she helped search for Alesha and later checked her CCTV system covering the front and back of her home, and saw her son on the footage.

The court was shown footage in which she identified her son leaving the home at 1.54am on July 2, wearing all black, and returning at 3.35am no longer wearing his black top.

At 3.44am, a light is turned on in the bathroom and he is seen leaving a minute later wearing only shorts and carrying an item.

He leaves the house again at 3.58am, running off wearing shoes, shorts and a top before returning at 4.07am.

The mother said she told her son about the footage and asked him why he was out, to which he said: “I don’t know, I might have been looking for my phone.”

She asked him if he knew anything about the missing girl and he said “no”.

His mother later phoned police to “eliminate” her son from inquiries, saying: “Obviously I really didn’t think he had anything to do with it whatsoever.”

After the police spoke to him she said he told her he was first out looking for cannabis and later for his phone.

She said: “I talked to him and tried to explain that whoever had done this to this little girl their DNA would be all over her.

“He was adamant, absolutely adamant, that he had nothing to do with it. There was no way they would find DNA on this little girl because he hadn’t seen her and he hadn’t been with her.”

She was later shown pictures of a knife found on the shore, which she said is “very similar” to those in her kitchen but she had “no idea” how it got there.

His mother was also shown jogging trousers and boxers at the shore, which she said looked like her son’s.

She described her son as “clever at maths”, “well-liked” and said he had “lots of friends”.

The court also heard from Alexander McLachlan, 48, who said CCTV from his home in Marine Place, Rothesay, shown to the jury, captured a figure carrying something along the shoreline at 2.26am on July 2 and he “presumed it was somebody carrying a child”.

His sister-in-law Shari Strathie, 33, said CCTV from her home next door, also shown in court, featured a person carrying something on their front “with legs hanging down”.

The accused has lodged a special defence blaming Toni McLachlan – the girlfriend of Alesha’s father Robert MacPhail – for the killing.

During her evidence to the court on Wednesday she insisted she had had nothing to do with the girl’s death, telling jurors: “I loved her to pieces.”

The trial continues.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Andrew Milligan / PA Wire.