Alesha MacPhail murder trial: Jury told of DNA Google search

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Alesha MacPhail

An internet search for “How do police find DNA” was allegedly made on a phone said to belong to the 16-year-old accused of murdering Alesha MacPhail.

A cybercrime expert told jurors the request was made on Google at 00:32 on 3 July last year, the day after the child’s body was discovered.

He said the phone was then used to access a How Stuff Works article entitled: “Collecting DNA evidence”.

The accused denies abducting, raping and murdering six-year-old Alesha.

The evidence came from cybercrime team leader Peter Benson.

It was contained in an 89-page report which was compiled after a forensic examination of an iPhone 6, said to belong to the accused.

Alesha’s body was found in a wooded area on the Isle of Bute on 2 July last year.

The High Court in Glasgow previously heard Alesha suffered 117 injuries and died from significant pressure being applied to her face and neck.

She was only days into a summer break on Rothesay when she was killed.

The teenager has lodged a special defence claiming the crime was committed by 18-year-old Toni McLachlan, who is the girlfriend of the victim’s father.

In previous evidence, Ms McLachlan has insisted she had nothing to do with Alesha’s death.

Image caption

The six-year-old was staying at her grandparents’ house before she disappeared

Why is the BBC not naming the accused?

It is illegal in Scotland to publish the name, address, school or any other information which could identify anyone under the age of 18 who is the accused, victim or witness in a criminal case

This law applies to social media as well as to websites, newspapers and TV and radio programmes.

However, the name of victims who have died can be published – so the BBC and other outlets are able to identify Alesha MacPhail.

How can an accused blame someone else for the crime?

Ahead of their trial, the accused can lodge a special defence such as self-defence (they were defending themselves from attack), alibi (they were somewhere else when the crime was committed) and mental disorder (the accused is not responsible for their actions because they were suffering from a psychiatric condition).

In this case, the accused has lodged a special defence of incrimination, which means he has claimed that someone else (Toni McLachlan) was responsible.

However, the Crown must still prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. There is no onus on the accused to prove their special defence is true, and he or she can still be acquitted even if the jury does not believe their special defence.



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