Alesha murder accused ‘never met her in person’

A teenager accused of raping and murdering six-year-old Alesha MacPhail has told a court he never met her.

The 16-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, said he “never met Alesha MacPhail in person” when asked if he had attacked her.

He denies abducting, raping and murdering the six-year-old on the Isle of Bute last July.

On Tuesday, giving evidence, he told the High Court in Glasgow, he had been “fairly frequently” having sex with the woman he is blaming for Alesha’s death, Toni McLachlan, the girlfriend of Alesha’s father.

He said from October 2017 they were “friends with benefits” and were “meeting up, having sex, smoking joints”.

He said her partner Robert, or Rab, MacPhail did not know as he and Ms McLachlan were still a couple and she would complain he was abusing her.

This arrangement lasted most of the winter and stopped when he got back together with his ex, the court heard.

He said early on July 2 he and Ms McLachlan messaged on Instagram, he asked her for cannabis, she said she had none but asked if he wanted to meet for a cigarette.

Alesha MacPhail funeral
The order of service for the six-year-old’s funeral (Lesley Martin/PA)

They met in a shelter outside the home where she was staying with Mr MacPhail, Alesha and her grandparents, then went to a garage and had sex, before going their separate ways, the court heard.

He said this was where he was heading when he was shown on CCTV leaving his home.

The teenager said he “lied” to his mother and the police about what he did on July 2 out of concern for Ms McLachlan.

He told them he had met a friend to get cannabis but said this was not true and he did not want to tell them about having sex with Ms McLachlan that night as he feared it would get back to Mr MacPhail.

“I didn’t want her to get hurt. I didn’t want her to get hit by Rab,” he said.

The accused told the court that after having sex he and Ms McLachlan chatted for a while and that afterwards he went home and had a shower.

He said he then realised he did not have his phone and went outside to look for it, but it was too dark so he came back to get a torch and shoes.

He went out again and managed to find it then came home and went to bed.

In the morning he woke to see that Ms McLachlan had phoned him at around 6.30am and he replied saying “sorry it doesn’t matter”, saying he said that “for Rab’s benefit” to make it look as though he and Ms McLachlan had not spoken.

He said he then received another message from her saying that Rab’s little girl was missing.

Toni McLachlan and Robert MacPhail
Toni McLachlan partner of Robert MacPhail (behind) at the High Court in Glasgow (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Defence agent Brian McConnachie QC asked the accused about a video he posted on social media that day which showed his top half with the written message “found who done it”.

The accused said: “It was a video of my feet walking to the bathroom and the camera points up to the mirror and I pretend to get a fright and it says ‘found who done it’.

Asked why he did that, he replied: “People were talking about who might have done it and one of my friends said my name and I didn’t want to take it to heart so I just thought I would build on it.”

Mr McConnachie said: “You were making people know you were responsible.”

The accused replied: “No, we didn’t even know it was a murder at that time, we were just speculating.”

Questioned about messages he exchanged with a friend where he says he would maybe “kill one day for the lifetime experience”, he said these were “not serious”.

He said the conversation was started by the friend, adding: “It would ruin your life if you ever killed anybody.”

He has lodged a special defence of incrimination, blaming Ms McLachlan.

Giving evidence last Wednesday, Ms McLachlan denied being responsible for Alesha’s death, saying she “loved” Alesha.

She also denied suggestions by the defence that she had sex with the accused on July 2, then planted his semen on Alesha, before “attacking and brutalising her” and murdering her.

The trial, before judge Lord Matthews, continues.

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