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Pathologist ‘had never seen anything like’ injuries found on body of Alesha MacPhail

Alesha MacPhail was found naked lying face down in woodland near an abandoned hotel

A pathologist who examined the dead body of a six-year-old girl told today how there were 117 injuries on her body – and he ‘had never seen anything like’ them. 

Alesha MacPhail, who was 3ft 9in tall, was found naked and face down in an area of woodland on the Isle of Bute.

Pathologist Dr John Williams, 38, said her injuries appeared to be consistent with pressure applied to her face, causing her death – and bleeding was evident.

He added: ‘These injuries are indicative of severe, forceful inflicted penetration.’

When asked if the injuries could have been caused by penetration, Dr Williams said: ‘They could have been, yes.’

A 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named due to his age, denies raping and murdering Alesha, plus child abduction and defeating the ends of justice.

Alesha was reported missing by her grandmother Angela King shortly before 6.30am on July 2, and the child’s body was found at the site of an abandoned hotel just before 9am that day.

Alesha's mother Georgina Lochrane (centre) arrives at Glasgow High Court this morning

Alesha’s mother Georgina Lochrane (centre) arrives at Glasgow High Court this morning

Alesha suffered injuries from ‘smothering’ which led to her death, the court heard. Pressure to her neck caused pin-point haemorrhages below her eyes.

Injuries to her spinal cord could have been caused be shaking or gripping her hair and shaking her head, the pathologist said.

Advocate depute Iain McSporran QC said not all of the injuries would be from ‘blows inflicted’. Some could also be from the terrain when she was killed, the court heard.

The pathologist, employed by the University of Glasgow, said the girl’s feet were uninjured, suggesting she was carried to the scene.

The court was told she had gone to bed the night before with no socks on.

Robert MacPhail, father of Alesha, at the court today

Pathologist Dr Edward John Williams leaves Glasgow High Court today

Alesha’s father Robert MacPhail (left) and pathologist Dr Edward John Williams (right) are pictures outside Glasgow High Court today

When the scientist told the court he had ‘never seen anything like’ the injuries she suffered, Mr McSporran paused to ask the jury if they were OK.

Dr Williams said the girl died from ‘significant forceful pressure to neck and face’.

When asked if the injuries observed ‘were something he had witnessed before’ in his years of forensic experience, Dr Williams said: ‘No’.

No illicit drugs were found in her body, which was initially examined in the wooded clearing where she was killed.

Further examination continued at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow. Dr Williams said: ‘It’s extremely difficult to give an accurate time of death.’ 

Alesha's grandparents Angela King and  Calum MacPhail are pictured outside the court today

Alesha’s grandparents Angela King and Calum MacPhail are pictured outside the court today

Later, the mother of the accused told the court she was ‘puzzled’ about why he left the house in the middle of the night.

The woman, who also cannot be named for legal reasons, said her son was ‘well-liked with a lot of friends’ and was popular and did well in school. 

He did parkour and lifted weights, the court was told.

The mother admitted she knew her son smoked cannabis and had done since the age of 14, and said she would see him having a joint behind the garage.

She told the court: ‘Obviously I wasn’t happy about it but if he wasn’t doing that he would be going out with other kids getting drunk.

Alesha (left) with Mr MacPhail (centre) and his girlfriend Toni Louise McLachlan (right)

Alesha (left) with Mr MacPhail (centre) and his girlfriend Toni Louise McLachlan (right)

‘I wasn’t really that bothered. It wasn’t like he was doing it all the time, he done it occasionally.’

She got CCTV installed because a family member with dementia was moving in, the court heard.

The woman told the court she asked Toni McLachlan to stop selling her son cannabis, and that the 18-year-old laughed and said it was her boyfriend Robert MacPhail who was the dealer.

CCTV captured audio of the mother and son arguing on the night Alesha was abducted, at 12.22am.

He had a party that night, to celebrate the end of exams, the woman said, and the lad had drunk a bottle of wine and Mad Dog 2020.

Mr MacPhail with his daughter Alesha - found dead last July hours after being reported missing

Mr MacPhail with his daughter Alesha – found dead last July hours after being reported missing

The mother said she was trying to get him to call his sister, who had left the house with friends.

She said she went to bed, and was awoken the next day to hear shouting outside, as members of the public searched for Alesha.

The mother checked her back garden, then asked her son if he had heard anything. He told her ‘no’ and went back to sleep, the court heard.

His mother joined in the search party with her dog, and said she saw Mr MacPhail and Miss McLachlan looking ‘very upset’ as they came down from the woods.

After seeing a police cordon, the woman went into her house.

She told the court: ‘I went in and told both the children I thought something had happened to the little girl.’

Mr Macphail, who has been attending the trial in Glasgow, is pictured with his daughter Alesha

Mr Macphail, who has been attending the trial in Glasgow, is pictured with his daughter Alesha

She checked her CCTV and saw the accused returning home after 3am – and until that point had not realised he had left the house.

She saw her son leave the house at 1.54am, dressed in dark trousers, black shoes and a black hoodie and return home at 3.35am.

The woman said he was without the ‘dark fleece he had been originally wearing’.

He then had a shower ‘making lots of noise’, before leaving the house again wearing shorts and bare feet and carrying a T-shirt. He returned seven minutes later.

Watching the original footage again, the mother realised the boy had left walking in the direction of the town centre, and returned from the opposite direction.

Police forensic team team at a house on the Isle of Bute outside Rothesay last July

Police forensic team team at a house on the Isle of Bute outside Rothesay last July

She said she initially watched the footage to see if Alesha had passed by the house. She told the court: ‘I was wondering why he went out.’

The woman said she asked her son: ‘I see you went out again last night’, and said his feet were dirty.

She recalled him saying: ‘I don’t know, I must’ve been looking for my phone.’

But when asked by advocate depute Iain McSporran QC if that ‘puzzled’ her, she replied: ‘Yes.’

She told a friend about it who advised her to call the police.

The mother said: ‘But I didn’t think he had actually done anything, it was more to help the police and eliminate him from their inquiries.’

The trial continues.

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