Alesha MacPhail cops descend on family home where she stayed before murder

Cops have descended on the home where little Alesha MacPhail was staying before she was murdered – as the hunt for her killer continues.

"Smiley" Alesha, six, was reported missing from her grandmother Angela King’s home on the Isle of Bute, Scotland, on Monday morning.

Her body was found less than three hours later in woodland on the site of a former hotel in Rothesay by a member of the public.

This morning, a team of police vans were seen arriving outside Ms King’s property, where Alesha had been staying while on holiday.

Officers entered the Ardbeg Road home, near Rothesay, shortly after 11am and could be seen searching the gardens surrounding it.

Police tape has also been put up around the building, while tributes have been laid by "stunned" locals, the Daily Record reports.

Cops had yesterday seized a vehicle on the island as part of their investigation into the death of "friendly" and popular Alesha.

The schoolgirl, from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, was a few days into a three-week break to visit family when she disappeared.

She was reported missing at 6.25am on Monday, with her body discovered in woodland at about 9am.

Last night, following the results of a post-mortem examination, police confirmed that they were treating the schoolgirl’s death as murder.

Cops have warned islanders to be vigilant about the safety of their children and the security of their homes as investigations continue.

Meanwhile, locals have spoken of their shock at the death of Alesha.

Reverend Owain Jones has opened his United Church of Bute in Rothesay to allow people to visit at any time.

He said: "We’re all absolutely staggered, we have no words for this and it’s beyond any power of words to express.

"We’re all just really sitting in a kind of shared stunned silence just trying to uphold each other.

"Bute is one of these places that is incredibly safe, you take all sorts of things for granted here and don’t panic if you forget to lock the house or whatever.

"It’s not a remote island in the classic sense – it’s only 90 minutes to Glasgow – but even so it is an island and we all know each other at least by sight, and it’s an extremely safe place and there is no context for this.

"We wondered what we could do as a church by way of a response and we have opened the church, after the news overnight, to people of all faiths and none to just come and sit and use the space as is helpful to them."

Meanwhile, Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston said Alesha’s family were "utterly devastated" at her death and appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

He is still keen to speak to people who were involved in the search for the missing girl that was conducted early on Monday.

He added: "Alesha had lots of friends who will no doubt find it very difficult to comprehend why they will never see their friend again.

"For such a young girl to have her life taken away is incomprehensible."

Earlier yesterday, Alesha’s devastated mum Georgina Lochrane, 23, whom she lived with, sobbed uncontrollably as police escorted her to see tributes that had been laid for her daughter outside the flat.

She placed a school photograph of her little girl beside the flowers.

It is understood that Georgina carried out a formal identification of her daughter’s body after it was taken to the mainland.

Alesha’s dad Robert MacPhail, who is estranged from Georgina, also went to see the tributes to his daughter yesterday.

He was supported by his girlfriend, Tonii Mclachlan.

Alesha was a pupil at Chapelside Primary School in Airdrie, where the headteacher said she would be "greatly missed".

Wendy Davie said: “Alesha started with us at Chapelside Primary in August 2016 and had just finished primary two.

“She loved being at school and enjoyed all aspects of literacy, in particular writing. She was such a perfectionist in her handwriting and was very proud of her work.

“Alesha was very friendly and she welcomed everyone first thing in the morning at breakfast club.

“She was a very considerate child who loved being part of a group and she was popular with all the other children and was a smiley and happy young girl. She was part of the family of Chapelside Primary and she will be greatly missed by everyone.”

Flowers, teddies and balloons have been left on the pavement in Ardbeg Road, with messages attached reading "sleep tight little angel" and "good night little angel".

Anyone with information is asked to call officers at the major investigations teams via 101, quoting incident no 0695 of July 2.

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