The father of a six-year-old girl whose naked body was found dumped in woodland has told a court he was watching porn with his girlfriend the night she disappeared.
Alesha MacPhail was found dead near a house where she was staying with family on the Isle of Bute in Scotland last July.
A 16-year-old boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, denies taking her from her bed, raping and murdering her and is on trial at Glasgow High Court.
Today her father Robert, 26, who split up with her mother Georgina when Alesha was just three months old, told a jury she had been staying with him at his parents’s flat and he last saw her when he put her to bed with a Peppa Pig DVD and told her ‘see you in the morning’.
He then went to his room and watched porn with his girlfriend Toni-Louise McLachlan, and only learned Alesha was missing the next morning when his parents alerted him.
He also revealed to the jury he knew the accused and claimed he had previously sold him cannabis, telling the court he had sent him a Facebook message asking for drugs on the night in question.
Robert MacPhail, 26, left, told a court he last saw his daughter Alesha, right, the night before she was found dead on the Isle of Bute in Scotland, telling her he would ‘see her soon’ and putting her to bed with a Peppa Pig DVD
Alesha was staying with her father, pictured outside Glasgow High Court, at his parents’ home in Scotland but disappeared overnight while he was ‘watching porn with his girlfriend’
A teenage boy, 16, is accused of raping and murdering Alesha and Mr MacPhail, left, admitted he knew him and had ‘sold him cannabis’. The court also heard he had split up with the girl’s mother Georgina Lochrane, right, three months after she was born
Mr MacPhail said the teenager was ‘messaging him asking for drugs on the day she was abducted’.
He said his daughter had been enjoying a summer holiday with her grandparents on Rothesay and had attended a party in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, before returning to the island.
A series of messages were then sent by the accused to Mr MacPhail at around 1.39am, which the father said he was ‘not aware of’ until later in the day.
Mr MacPhail added the teen had never been in the house but ‘might have been at the front door of the flat’.
He said: ‘He sent messages from his Facebook account and he tried to call me.
‘There was messages from him and his sister’s accounts that night.’
Asked if he received the messages while awake, sent around 1:39am on July 2 last year, Mr MacPhail replied: ‘No, I wasn’t aware of getting them at that time.’
Mr McSporran said: ‘Why would he contact you?’
Mr MacPhail said: ‘He wanted cannabis.’
Ms Lochrane, pictured, was among family members who left the court briefly today as graphic photos of Alesha’s body were shown to the jury
He admitted having sold cannabis to the accused’s sister, but said he stopped selling drugs to the teenage boy three months earlier after intervention from the boy’s mother.
Under cross-examination, Brian McConnachie QC told the court the pair had split between March and September 2017.
When asked about reports by a neighbour of domestic abuse occurring between him and his girlfriend, Mr MacPhail denied the claim.
Mr MacPhail, who told the court he met Toni when she was 16 and got back together with her six weeks before his daughter’s death, said: ‘We were arguing all the time.
‘But there wasn’t any abuse.’
He said Alesha was only allowed out by herself to play on a trampoline in the garden.
Mr MacPhail later recalled the moment he realised she was missing and said he had searched the taxi rank and ferry port with his girlfriend, whom he started dating when she was aged 16.
His mother posted a message on Facebook asking for information, while Mr McPhail and his girlfriend went out on foot.
The search came to an end when they saw an ambulance near the scene.
He told the court police refused to tell them anything and escorted them to a police station.
Mr MacPhail added his daughter ‘loved’ spending time on his home island, going to the beach and playing at the park.
Asked about Alesha’s relationship with Ms McLachlan, he said it was ‘great’.
‘They both loved each other to bits,’ he said.
Alesha’s grandparents Calum MacPhail, 49, and Angela King, 47, pictured, also told the court about the horror moment they realised she was missing from their home
Meanwhile Alesha’s grandfather Calum MacPhail, 49, told the court the last time he saw the girl was when she came in and jumped on his bed the night before she was discovered.
He told the court her last words to him were: ‘Goodnight, grandpa.’
The next morning he got up for work at around 6am but could not find Alesha in bed.
He alerted the family and told the court: ‘We searched under beds, in wardrobes, but there was no sign of her anywhere.’
The grandfather soon hit the streets of Bute to look for Alesha.
He eventually spotted police tape at an area cordoned off.
An officer was keeping guard at a stairs heading towards the island’s former Kyles Hydropathic Hotel.
Mr McSporran: ‘Did you assume anything?’
He said: ‘On seeing a paramedic running up and down stairs, I assumed they had found something…Alesha or someone else.’
Alesha’s body was found in woodland on the Isle of Bute, pictured, and forensic teams found a knife and men’s clothing nearby
The family begged for information before being told to go the local police station.
An emotional Mr MacPhail then told the court how the news of Alesha’s death was delivered by officers.
He said: ‘We were put into a room. Five minutes later, a police officer said: “We have found her, but that she had passed.”.’
At that point, prosecutor Mr McSporran told Calum: ‘Take a moment to compose yourself.’
His wife Angela King, 47, later described the child as a ‘beautiful, beautiful happy girl’.
She remembered her husband pleading with police during the hunt for the girl.
She said: ‘Calum said: “If that’s my granddaughter up there, I want to know”.’
She was later asked in cross examination by the boy’s QC Mr McConnachie of being aware of her son Robert’s apparent drug dealing.
Mrs King said: ‘He never admitted it, but I had my suspicions.’
The 16-year-old accused of Alesha’s murder has lodged a special defence blaming Ms McLachlan for her death.
It came after members of the jury were shown the horrific pictures of her body, with members of her family leaving the court before they were revealed.
The court heard forensic officers, pictured, found a kitchen knife nearby at the scene
The father added he had never let the accused into the house before.
Photos also showed a kitchen knife and several items of male clothing, including a pair of men’s boxer shorts, jogging bottoms and a hooded top, which were discovered near her body.
Images showed an inside-out pair of men’s grey jogging bottoms with a pair of men’s boxer shorts inside.
They were found on a stretch of shoreline a short distance from the place where Alesha’s body was discovered.
The jury was shown images from inside the accused’s kitchen, and advocate depute Iain McSporran told the court that the knife found on the beach resembled those found in the house.
Shots of inside the stairwell leading up to the MacPhail’s third floor flat showed a child’s pushchair and a doll.
Brian Ferguson, a scene examination supervisor, said a black hooded top was also found by a member of the public further along the beach from where the trousers and briefs were found.
Mr Ferguson first visited the island on July 4 and was tasked with taking photographs of items of clothing in the early hours of July 5.
Mr Ferguson said: ‘Garments were found on the beach by near the shore road by a member of public.
‘I believe the top had been had been taken in possession by the police.’
He added: ‘It was found in a bin area behind Rothesay police office.’
The teenager denies taking the child from her bed before assaulting and murdering her.
He also denies attempting to defeat the ends of justice by disposing of clothing and a knife.
The trial continues.
Clothing including men’s boxer shorts and jogging bottoms were also found near the scene in Scotland, pictured
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