Alesha MacPhail murder trial hears of six-year-old’s injuries

Alesha MacPhail Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Alesha’s body was found in the grounds of a former hotel on 2 July last year

A pathologist has told the Alesha MacPhail murder trial that the six-year-old died after significant pressure was applied to her face and neck.

John Williams also told the court that Alesha had 117 injuries, although some could have been caused by vegetation.

He agreed that some injuries were consistent with smothering.

A 16-year old boy denies abducting, raping and murdering the schoolgirl on the Isle of Bute.

He cannot be named due to his age.

It is alleged that Alesha was taken from the home her grandparents shared with her father.

Warning: The following contains details of Alesha’s injuries

Dr Williams was one of the pathologists who carried out the post-mortem examination on her body after she was found in woodland at a disused hotel on 2 July last year.

He told the High Court in Glasgow the injuries to Alesha’s neck and face were consistent with being gripped, and those to her nose and mouth were consistent with smothering.

He added it was also possible her windpipe was pushed shut.

Dr Williams also said Alesha had “catastrophic” genital injuries, more severe than he had ever seen before.

And he said Alesha’s feet appeared to be uninjured which he agreed would be consistent with her being carried to the area.

The 16-year-old accused has also been charged with attempting to hide evidence.

He has claimed it was Toni McLachlan, the partner of Alesha’s father, who killed her.

During her evidence to the court on Wednesday, Ms McLachlan insisted she had nothing to do with Alesha’s death, telling jurors: “I loved her to pieces.”

Why is the BBC not naming the accused?

It is illegal in Scotland to publish the name, address, school or any other information which could identify anyone under the age of 18 who is the accused, victim or witness in a criminal case

This law applies to social media as well as to websites, newspapers and TV and radio programmes.

However, the name of victims who have died can be published – so the BBC and other outlets are able to identify Alesha MacPhail.

How can an accused blame someone else for the crime?

Ahead of their trial, the accused can lodge a special defence such as self-defence (they were defending themselves from attack), alibi (they were somewhere else when the crime was committed) and mental disorder (the accused is not responsible for their actions because they were suffering from a psychiatric condition).

In this case, the accused has lodged a special defence of incrimination, which means he has claimed that someone else (Toni McLachlan) was responsible.

However, the Crown must still prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. There is no onus on the accused to prove their special defence is true, and he or she can still be acquitted even if the jury does not believe their special defence.

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