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'Naming killer could lead to confession' says criminologist

Professor David Wilson has backed the decision to name Alesha MacPhail's killer.

Child killer: Sixteen-year-old Aaron Campbell.
Child killer: Sixteen-year-old Aaron Campbell.

By Russell Findlay

A leading criminologist believes that naming child killer Aaron Campbell could force him to accept his guilt.

Professor David Wilson backs the decision to identify the 16-year-old after he was found guilty of abducting, raping and murdering Alesha MacPhail.

Since his arrest last summer, Campbell denied the crime and incriminated an innocent person during his trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Professor Wilson, speaking after judge Lord Matthews granted a media bid to name Campbell, said: "I know through my work with young men who have committed murder in England that if they have anonymity that prevents a great deal of work being done with them in relation to get them to take responsibility for their offending.

"Throughout this case, Aaron Campbell seemed to be a master at preventing himself from taking responsibility for what he had done.

"I think in naming him that will help those people who are going to work with him in custody to be able to get him to take responsibility for the crime that he has committed.

"I've got absolutely no doubt that when you have to work with young people who have committed very serious crimes, the first stage in that process is to get them to acknowledge their guilt.

"A great deal of work would have to be done with him therapeutically to get him to accept his responsibility and I think that process has been aided by the fact that he's been publicly identified."

'I think in naming him that will help those people who are going to work with him in custody to be able to get him to take responsibility for the crime that he has committed.'
Professor David Wilson

Campbell will be given a life sentence when he is sentenced on March 21 and a minimum jail term will be imposed - although the judge warned that he may never be freed.

Professor Wilson believes that even the worst child killers can be treated to reduce public risk in the event of their possible release from prison.

He cited the case of James Bulger, the toddler killed in 1993 by 10 year olds Jon Venables and Robert Thompson.

While Thompson has not reoffended, Venables went on to commit numerous other crimes including child pornography offences.

The academic, of Birmingham City University, said: "We tend to concentrate on those people who don't succeed in therapy when they're very young as opposed to those many people who do succeed in therapy.

"I think we know enough about how to approach young people who've committed this kind of crime to be able to say there is hope that there can eventually be some treatment for somebody like Aaron Campbell."

Alesha, from Airdrie, was visiting her dad on the Isle of Bute last summer when she was killed.

Campbell snatched the six-year-old from her bed and carried her to a disused hospital grounds where he raped and murdered her.

The little girl suffered 117 injuries - including some to her genital area which were described as 'catastrophic'.

https://stv.tv/news/west-central/1435741-boy-who-raped-and-murdered-alesha-macphail-now-unveiled-draft/ | default

Campbell maintained a cool and confident demeanour as he came up with a pack of lies in a bid to prove his innocence.

But on Thursday a jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict after hearing what the prosecutor called a "mountain of evidence".

On Friday, media companies including STV News, successfully argued that a legal ban on naming any criminal aged under 18 should be lifted.

Professor Wilson says that speculation that Campbell was a potential to become a serial killer was misplaced due to the chaotic nature of his crime.

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