A BOY of 16 has been found guilty of the abduction, rape and murder of six-year-old Alesha MacPhail on the Isle of Bute last July.

Alesha, from Airdrie in Lanarkshire, had arrived on the island a few days earlier for a three-week summer break. On 1 July she was brought back from a party to the seafront flat where she was staying with her father and grandparents, and reluctantly went to bed. She fell asleep watching Peppa Pig.

The jury heard that Aaron Campbell – whose identity was revealed yesterday after a judge lifted a ban on naming him – took Alesha from her bed, using a knife to silence her, and carried the child to the grounds of a disused hotel where he raped and smothered her.

The pathologist who examined Alesha’s body told the court the girl had sustained ‘catastrophic’ injuries, some of which he concluded had been inflicted while she was still alive.

This is one of those crimes that truly defies belief. No motive was offered as to why a 16-year old-boy would take a child from her bed and then brutalise and murder her. It is an unspeakable evil.

What I have also found disquieting is how this crime has not received that much media coverage. It is true it was the lead story on some of the websites but there was a time when this kind of story would not only dominate the news but would be talked about between ordinary people in Britain. No more.

It is as if we have become desensitised to not only the most monstrous of crimes being committed against young children, but the fact that they are committed by young people – a boy of 16 in this case. This should frighten us.

I will only add that in her victim impact statement, Alesha’s mother, Georgina Lochrane, said that her world had been ripped from her and that she continued to have nightmares about what happened to her daughter. I cannot imagine her torment. To lose a child is tragic enough, but to lose a child in these circumstances, to be thinking about her final hours, is nothing short of mental torture.

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