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Alesha MacPhail's killer allowed to appeal 27-year sentence

Aaron Campbell will have his case heard before three judges in Edinburgh in August.

Killer: Aaron Campbell raped and murdered Alesha MacPhail.
Killer: Aaron Campbell raped and murdered Alesha MacPhail.

Aaron Campbell has been granted leave to appeal against his 27-year prison sentence for murdering Alesha MacPhail.

In March, the teenager was convicted of killing the six-year-old schoolgirl on the Isle of Bute in July 2018.

He abducted and raped Alesha, before murdering her and dumping her body in woodland.

Campbell, 17, denied the charges throughout a two-week trial, but admitted the offence during his sentencing hearing.

Judge Lord Matthews gave him a mandatory life sentence and ordered him to spend at least 27 years behind bars.

A spokesman from the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service confirmed that Campbell has been granted an appeal, which will be heard by three judges in Edinburgh later this year on August 7.

Alesha: The six-year-old was on a summer holiday when she was killed.
Alesha: The six-year-old was on a summer holiday when she was killed.

Armed with a knife, "cold-bloodied" Campbell snatched Alesha out of her bed before carrying her to the former Kyles Hydropathic Hotel on the island where he raped and murdered her on July 2 last year.

He told the child he was a friend of her dad's and was going to take her home, before raping and murdering her.

Campbell then threw his clothing into the sea before going back to the scene to retrieve his phone.

https://stv.tv/news/west-central/1436483-timeline-the-murder-of-six-year-old-alesha-macphail/ | default

During the sentencing, Lord Matthews told how he was "shocked" when he read the "cold-blooded and horrific" account given by the killer to a psychologist after his conviction.

Alesha's body was found in a wooded area of the island a few hours after her family reported her missing on July 2 last year.

Campbell previously claimed Alesha's dad's girlfriend, Toni McLachlan, had "murder on her mind", blaming the 19-year-old for the killing.

However, it was reaffirmed during the sentencing hearing that Ms McLachlan had nothing to do with it.

Alesha's mum Georgina Lochrane told STV News that Campbell had "destroyed" her family but the help of charity Families Against Murder and Suicide (FAMS) had made her determined to help others in a similar situation.

She said: "He has gone in with a wrecking ball and destroyed us all but it's up to us to pick ourselves up.

"Every day shocked me. I would go in to the courtroom and I would think 'right I've heard the worst' and then I would hear even more.

"He went in to the trial with a shot in the dark and hoped he would win.

"To be honest, I wasn't shocked when he admitted it. I was more shocked at how quickly he admitted it because that was all I wanted. I just wanted to know why."

Miss Lochrane believes Campbell is only making things worse for himself by appealing.

She stated: "He put us through the most horrific thing ever by taking Alesha, then he put us through a trial, turned around and admitted it right at the end.

"Now he wants to appeal against his sentence. He is only making it worse on himself and when it blows up in his face, I'll be sitting there laughing.

"There is no point preparing, I just take each day as it comes and I know I'll have FAMS there every step of the way so I'll be ready for it."

Alesha's uncle CJ MacPhail has since called for changes to the law so children accused of the most serious crimes - such as rape and murder - can be tried as adults in court.

Campbell was sentenced as a child and initially could not be named because he is under 18. The judge lifted that restriction after a challenge by media outlets, including STV News.

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