Alesha murder accused claims his clothes were ‘lost in the sea’

A teenager accused of raping and murdering a six-year-old girl claims he lost his clothes in the sea after a court heard his DNA was recovered from the waistband of jogging trousers found on the shore.

The 16-year-old boy said boxer shorts and jogging trousers that have been shown to the jury at the High Court in Glasgow were lost on Friday June 29, 2018.

He denies abducting, raping and murdering six-year-old Alesha MacPhail on the Isle of Bute last July as well as attempting to hide evidence.

Giving evidence, the teenager said he had been jumping into the water from a pier by himself.

He said: “Once I’d finished drying myself I went to pick my trousers up but I wasn’t fast enough and they just went into the sea.”

Earlier the court heard the clothing was found on the shoreline by a dog walker and recovered by police, days after Alesha MacPhail’s body was found in woods on the Isle of Bute on July 2 last year.

Alesha MacPhail funeral
Flowers, pictures and messages were left outside the Coats Funeral Home in Coatbridge during the six-year-old’s funeral (Lesley Martin/PA)

Forensic scientist Stuart Bailey earlier told the court semen from the accused was found inside Alesha.

He said an explanation for this was intercourse but the defence suggestion that the accused’s semen was “planted” there was scientifically possible.

Questioned if the accused’s DNA could have been found on Alesha though secondary transfer from a third party, Mr Bailey said: “I can’t rule it out but I find it highly unlikely given the amount of DNA attributed to [the accused].”

He said the accused’s DNA was also recovered from the waistband of jogging trousers found on the shoreline on the Isle of Bute, but no DNA was discovered on a knife or a black hooded top found on different areas of the shore.

Mr Bailey said no bloodstains or DNA samples from the accused were recovered from the house Alesha had been staying in, which her father shared with her grandparents on Ardbeg Road in Rothesay.

There were also no bloodstains relevant to the inquiry or DNA from Alesha found in the accused’s house, he said.

Under questioning, he said the the DNA findings from the homes were scientifically “neutral” and could not be used to either indicate or rule out the teenager being in the house Alesha was staying.

The schoolgirl was reported missing shortly after 6am on July 2 last year.

Her body was found hours later in a wooded area on the island.

The 16-year-old denies abducting, raping and murdering Alesha, and attempting to hide evidence.

He has lodged a special defence of incrimination, blaming Toni McLachlan – the girlfriend of Alesha’s father Robert MacPhail – for the killing.

Alesha MacPhail murder trial
Toni McLachlan partner of Robert MacPhail (behind), father of Alesha MacPhail, outside the High Court in Glasgow (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Giving evidence last Wednesday, Ms McLachlan denied being responsible for her 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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