Alesha MacPhail’s family demand answers after leaked report reveals killer was on police watch list

Alesha MacPhail was visiting her grandparents on the Isle of Bute last summer when she was raped and murdered. It is one of the most shocking crimes in Scotland's modern history - a six-year-old girl abducted from her own bed, her body left naked in the woods.

On Thursday it was revealed for the first time that the 16-year-old who killed her was already on the radar of police and social services.

Aaron Campbell, now 17, had been referred to the Youth Justice Service twice.

He was also being monitored, with information shared between different agencies involved in his case, including his school.

Alesha’s family is now demanding to know why Aaron Campbell was allowed to slip through the net; with all of these safeguards in place, how could he be allowed to abduct, rape, and murder little Alesha?

They are also furious that they have not been told any of this information before now. They only found out at all because Argyll and Bute council’s review of the case was leaked to them.

The review was finished six months ago, but Alesha’s family hadn’t even been told it was being done, nor were they informed of its conclusions.

Crucially, it says "[Aaron Campbell] and his family were known to services when he committed the offence".

It also said: "The review determined his behaviours did not reach the threshold for implementing Argyll and Bute's Sexual Harmful Behaviours protocol." That protocol is now being updated.

Georgina Lochrane said her daughter's killer was 'playing the system' after prison sentence reduction. Credit: PA

Alesha's uncle, Calum John MacPhail, saw the report for the first time on Thursday. In an exclusive interview with ITV News, he now says the threshold surely needs to change if it failed to identify the dangers posed by Campbell before he went on to kill.

A statement from the council’s health and social care partnership said: “We went beyond what is required from an initial review and carried out a thorough, multi-agency assessment of what happened. This robust process has evidenced that a crime of this nature could not have been foreseen.”

Alesha’s family are now campaigning for a change in the law and the court system in Scotland. They recently attended a meeting with the Scottish Government's Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, as well as the Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd.

One of the areas they are focusing on is how the justice system and general support on offer in the lead up to a trial is, in their experience, tilted in favour of the accused rather than the victim and the victim's relatives.

When Alesha was taken from her grandparents' house on the Isle of Bute, their home became a crime scene. They were not allowed to return for more than six weeks, not even to pick up clothes.

While grieving for Alesha, they had the extra stress of being out of pocket - having to find their own alternative accommodation and buy new clothes.

Aaron Campbell had his jail term cut by three years on appeal. Credit: Police Scotland/PA

Conversely, Aaron Campbell's family were offered accommodation and support. His legal fees were paid as he pleaded not guilty and forced the family to go through two weeks of a trial, before then changing his mind and admitting he was guilty after all.

What's more, Calum John says the Police Scotland family liaison officers were more interested in protecting the case and keeping an eye on his family than offering personal advice and support.

He describes the treatment of his family during this already unimaginably painful time as "shocking," as though they were a mere "afterthought."

The change he is fighting for now is too late for his niece and for his family, but he says no one should be forced to endure the pain he’s still going through since Alesha was taken so cruelly.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our sympathies continue to be entirely with the family of Alesha MacPhail for their dreadful loss.

“The Justice Secretary and Minister for Children recently met a number of Alesha’s relatives to discuss a wide range of issues connected with this tragic case, and we will be responding to those very soon.

“In terms of local child protection case reviews, it is for the responsible agencies locally to determine who should receive the findings and make appropriate arrangements.”