Alesha MacPhail killer claims jail term ‘excessive’ and ‘miscarriage of justice’

The 27-year prison sentence for the teenager who abducted, raped and murdered Alesha MacPhail was “excessive and a miscarriage of justice”, an appeal court has heard.

Aaron Campbell took the six-year-old from her bed at her grandparents’ home on the Isle of Bute on July 2 last year.

Earlier this year, the now 17-year-old Campbell was found guilty at the High Court in Glasgow and handed a life sentence with a minimum of 27 years.

His appeal was heard before three judges at the Criminal Appeal Court in Edinburgh, with Alesha’s parents Robert MacPhail and Georgina Lochrane in the gallery.

Campbell was linked into the courtroom via video, showing no emotion during the hearing.

The grieving mother kept her eyes on her child’s murderer throughout much of it.

The killer’s lawyer, Brian McConnachie QC, argued it would be difficult for Campbell to be rehabilitated due to him being “middle-aged” by the time he could be considered for release so a shorter sentence makes “more sense”.

He said: “The question of whether he will be released will depend on the view of the Parole Board and upon them reaching a conclusion that it would be safe to release him.

“I accept, as does the appellant, that day may never come.

“Due to the appellant’s age, the punishment selected was excessive and amounts to a miscarriage of justice.”

He added: “If one maintains a punishment period as it is then the appellant will be 43 years of age before the issue (of his release) is perhaps considered to any degree.

“The appellant will have been in custody for the entire period he has been on this Earth, plus another 11 years.”

The lawyer went on to argue the sentencing judge had overly-focused on “pessimistic” background reports when choosing the minimum jail term.

He said: “In placing so much emphasis on the negative prospects of reintegration, this effectively disallowed the opportunity for progress to be made up until that period.

“When one is dealing with a child, it would make much more sense to give that opportunity because one knows there’s the ultimate arbiter of whether someone is or can be rehabilitated into society with the Parole Board.”

During the nine-day trial in March, he told the jury about how he would “never do something like that” when asked if he had killed Alesha.

But a friend had shown detectives messages he sent in 2017, saying he “might kill 1 day for the lifetime experience”.

Campbell also tried to convince the jury he had sex with Toni McLachlan, the girlfriend of Alesha’s father Robert MacPhail, on the night of the murder.

After carrying out the atrocity, Campbell exchanged messages with Ms McLachlan, who he later tried to blame for the crime, saying of the missing girl: “Oh damn am sure she’s not went too far.”

He later confessed the crime to those assessing him ahead of the sentencing, saying he was “quite satisfied by the murder”.

Alesha, from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, had been staying with her family on the island during the summer holidays.

Following the discovery of her body it was Campbell’s mother who called police in an apparent bid to eliminate her son from their inquiries.

Judge Lady Scott said a decision on the appeal would be made in writing in “due course”.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture – Georgina Lochrane, mother of Alesha MacPhail, arrives at the High Court in Edinburgh (c) Andrew Milligan / PA Wire.