Aaron Campbell finally admits to raping and murdering six-year-old Alesha MacPhail as he's jailed for life

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Aaron Campbell has finally admitted to raping and murdering Alesha MacPhail (Facebook/Police Scotland)

A teenager who raped and murdered a six-year-old girl on the Isle of Bute said “all he could think about was killing her” once he saw her.

Sixteen-year-old Aaron Campbell, who was convicted of raping and murdering Alesha MacPhail last month, finally admitted to his crimes before being sentenced to life today.

Sentencing Campbell, who was told he must spend at least 27 years behind bars, Judge Lord Matthews said he was a cold and calculated individual who had shown “not a flicker of remorse” during the trial.

He added that, at times during the trial, Campbell had to stop himself laughing.

He said: “You went into the house and then her bedroom, you removed her from there and took her to a secluded spot where you raped and murdered her in the most brutal fashion.

“It’s difficult to imagine the distress her family must have suffered.”

Lord Matthews also revealed the contents of Campbell’s psychologist’s report: “When you saw Alesha your reaction, according to you, was as follows: ‘A moment of opportunity… At any other time in life, murder wouldn’t have been the conclusion. If I was a year younger I don’t think I would have done it… All I thought about was killing her once I saw her’.”

After the sentence was read out family members shouted “evil” and “beast” as Campbell was led down to the cells.

Alesha’s mother, Georgina Lochrane, shouted at Campbell after he was sentenced: “Disgusting, vile litle f****** rat.”

Alesha’s body was found in woods on the Isle of Bute on July 2 last year (Facebook)

Campbell, 16, who was unanimously found guilty by a jury at the High Court in Glasgow last month, admitted responsibility for the rape and murder of Alesha in background reports ordered by the judge.

Brian McConnachie QC, representing 16-year-old Campbell, said: “The most striking thing about these reports is that in the reports Mr Campbell has admitted to responsibility for the rape and murder of Alesha MacPhail.”

Mr McConnachie said the psychologist’s report found that Campbell “presents with a range of traits on the psychopathy checklist and also has a wide range of factors present in relation to potential sexually harmful behaviour”.

He said that Campbell’s upbringing was “less than ideal” but that this was not a mitigating factor.

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Ahead of Campbell’s sentencing, he concluded: “In dealing with this matter I would ask your Lordship to have regard to the fact that in imposing the punishment part at this stage it is a punishment part of a significant length undoubtedly which is being imposed upon a child.”

Alesha’s body was found in woods on the Isle of Bute on July 2 last year, hours after she was reported missing from the house her father shared with his parents and partner on the island.

Campbell, whose identity was revealed following his conviction, took Alesha from the bed where she was sleeping and inflicted horrific injuries before dumping her body in woodland.

Pathologist John Williams told the trial that Alesha had 117 separate injuries, and a post-mortem examination he conducted indicated she had died from “significant and forceful pressure to her neck and face”.

Georgina Lochrane, the mother of Alesha MacPhail, arrives at court for Campbell’s sentencing (PA)
Campbell was convicted at the High Court in Glasgow last month where a jury found him guilty unanimously (Police Scotland)

The court heard that Alesha was days into her summer holiday with father Robert MacPhail, 26, and grandparents Angela King and Calum MacPhail when she was snatched by Campbell, who tried to blame her father’s girlfriend for the crime.

Prosecutor Iain McSporran said he hoped the guilty verdict would remove any doubt that she could have been involved.

He referred to a victim impact statement from Alesha’s paternal grandparents Angela King and Calum MacPhail.

Robert MacPhail (centre), the father of Alesha MacPhail, arrives at the High Court in Glasgow with Alesha’s grandparents Callum MacPhail and Angela King (PA)

He said: “They are utterly devastated and heartbroken. She was a beautiful, kind and thoughtful child who they miss every day.

“They are tortured and tormented by the circumstances of her murder. I think overwhelmed is an understatement.

“They do not see how they can live a normal life. Her future was taken and so was theirs.”

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