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Judge allows girl's 16-year-old killer to be identified

22 February 2019

The trial judge in the case concerning the rape and murder of six-year-old Alesha MacPhail has allowed the identity of the 16-year-old accused to be published in the media.

Lord Matthews in the High Court in Glasgow lifted the restriction on publishing the name and photograph of Aaron Campbell, who was convicted yesterday of what the judge described as among the "wickedest, most evil crimes this court has ever heard".

Evidence had been led that the girl had sustained 117 injuries after being abducted from the flat on the island of Bute where she was staying with her father and grandparents during last year's school summer holidays.

After hearing the application made by newspaper and broadcasting interests, Lord Matthews said: "I can't think of a case in recent times that has attracted such revulsion." The order is the first one made in a Scottish court since the age below which an accused should not be identified without permission of the court was raised from 16 to 18, in 2015.

For the applicants, who based their case on the public interest, Tony Graham QC said it would be naive to think Campbell's identity was not already known within the local community and at Polmont Young Offenders Institution where he has been held. His name had also been on Facebook and Twitter, and had been able to be found by a Google search since last July.

For Campbell, Brian McConnachie QC said the fact that he had incriminated another person, Alesha's father's girlfriend, was no reason to identify him and "would simply be tit-for-tat". Nor was the existence of information on social media a reason to override the rule. His client had been threatened and had a history of self harm.

Campbell is due to be sentenced next month.


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