Aaron Campbell Sentence: Alesha MacPhail Murderer Jailed For 27 Years

Sara C Nelson

A 16-year-old boy who abducted, raped and murdered six-year-old Alesha MacPhail has been jailed for a minimum of 27 years.

Sentencing Aaron Campbell, Lord Matthews said he was a cold and calculated individual who had shown “not a flicker of remorse” during the trial.

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.”

He warned the killer he may never be released from custody and said no sentence he could pass would alleviate the anguish of Alesha’s family. 

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

Aaron Campbell was jailed today for the murder and rape of a six-year-old girl 

Campbell was convicted at the High Court in Glasgow last month, where a jury unanimously found him guilty following a nine-day trial. He admitted to the offences on the day of his sentencing. 

Brian McConnachie QC, representing Campbell, said the teenager had admitted responsibility for the rape and murder of Alesha, six, in background reports ordered by the judge.

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.

Alesha MacPhail was just days into her summer holiday on the Isle of Bute when she was snatched from her bed and killed 

Campbell could not be identified during the trial due to his age, but following his conviction judge Lord Matthews lifted a ban on revealing his identity.

Lord Matthews said that according to the reports, on the night of the murder Campbell had been at a party drinking and went into Alesha’s house looking for cannabis, and entered her bedroom.

He said: “When you saw Alesha your reaction was ‘a moment of opportunity’. You said ‘all I thought about was killing her when I saw her’.

“You said that Alesha was drowsy and became a bit more awake when you went out. At one point she asked who you were and where you were going.

“You said you were a friend of her father and that you were taking her home.”

The judge said that over the next few days Campbell was unconcerned about what had happened and slightly amused that the police had not caught him.

The court heard that the teenager had said he was “quite satisfied by the murder”.

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”.

Robert MacPhail, the father of Alesha MacPhail, with his partner Toni McLachlan at the High Court in Glasgow

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.

CCTV footage from Campbell’s mother’s own security system provided evidence which helped detectives catch the killer.

Campbell was filmed coming and going from his home several times in the early hours of 2 July, removing items of clothing and retrieving a torch.

A psychological evaluation carried out on 9 and 10 July last year highlighted no issues to suggest he was not of sound mind when he murdered Alesha.

Prosecutor Iain McSporran QC referred to a victim impact statement from Alesha’s paternal grandparents Angela King and Calum MacPhail. 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.”

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

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