Murder accused googled ‘how do police find DNA’ after body find, court hears

A teenager accused of the abduction, rape and murder of a six-year-old girl googled "how do police find DNA", a court has heard.

Cyber crime team leader Peter Benson told the Alesha MacPhail murder trial he helped compile a report of relevant information following a forensic investigation of the 16-year-old boy's phone.

From his internet history, two items were deemed relevant for inclusion including a Google search for the term "how do police find DNA" at 12.32am on July 3, the day after Alesha's body was found in woods on the Isle of Bute.

Mr Benson said this would be "something you type in".

A minute later the internet history shows a page on collecting DNA evidence, which Mr Benson said indicates "the person using the phone has gone to one of the hits".

The former policeman was also questioned about any communication on Instagram between the accused, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and the person who the teenager blames for Alesha's death.

Alesha MacPhail murder trial
Alesha MacPhail murder trial

The 16-year-old has lodged a special defence of incrimination, blaming Toni McLachlan – the girlfriend of Alesha's father Robert MacPhail – for the killing.

Advocate Depute Iain McSporran QC asked Mr Benson if there was Instagram communication between the accused and Ms McLachlan.

He replied: "I can say there was no indication of that at all."

Giving evidence earlier in the trial, Ms McLachlan refuted suggestions from the accused's defence lawyer, Brian McConnachie QC, that she and the teenager had been in contact on Instagram in the early hours of July 2.

Mr McConnachie suggested they had messaged on Instagram, then met and had sex in a shed, before Ms McLachlan took Alesha from her room, "attacked and brutalised her" and "planted" the accused's semen from the condom used earlier, then murdered her, all of which Ms McLachlan denied.

On Wednesday last week, Ms McLachlan told jurors she "loved" Alesha and had nothing to do with her death.

Ms McLachlan was staying in the house Alesha's grandparents shared with her partner on Ardbeg Road, Bute, when the schoolgirl went missing after arriving for the school holidays.

The court also heard from Detective Constable Ian Wilson on the sixth day of the trial, who said the accused gave a "no comment" response when charged by police.

The teenager was arrested on July 4 and was taken to Glasgow for a police interview, where he responded "no comment" to questions.

Alesha MacPhail funeral tributes
Alesha MacPhail funeral tributes

On being charged with Alesha's murder, he also replied: "No comment."

The detective said this was not unusual and was within the teenager's rights.

Detective Constable Graham McIlwraith also gave evidence and said he searched the accused's home and noticed one knife missing from a block of five.

Shown a photograph of a knife found on the shore opposite where Alesha had been staying, he said it "would appear to be the same design" as the Jamie Oliver brand knives found in the accused's house.

The teenager denies abducting, raping and murdering Alesha, and attempting to hide evidence.

The trial, before judge Lord Matthews, continues.