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Alesha MacPhail murder trial: Jury told accused 'used phone to Google how do police find DNA'

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A phone belonging to a teenager accused of murdering a six-year-old girl was used to Google “how do police find DNA”, a court heard today.


The murder trial of Alesha MacPhail on Monday heard from cybercrime team leader Peter Benson, who helped compile a report of information after a search of the 16-year-old boy’s phone. 

From the device’s internet history, police found a Google search for the term “how do police find DNA” at 12.32am on July 3, the day after Alesha’s body was found in woods on the Isle of Bute.

A minute later the internet history shows a page on collecting DNA evidence, which Mr Benson said indicates “the person using the phone has gone to one of the hits”.

Forensic officers on Ardbeg Road on the Isle of Bute after officers found the body of Alesha MacPhail (Jane Barlow/PA)

Mr Benson was also questioned about any communication on Instagram between the accused, who cannot legally be named, and the person who the teenager blames for Alesha’s death.

The 16-year-old has lodged a special defence of incrimination, blaming Toni McLachlan – the girlfriend of Alesha’s father Robert MacPhail – for the killing.

Advocate Depute Iain McSporran QC asked Mr Benson if there was Instagram communication between the accused and Ms McLachlan.

He replied: “I can say there was no indication of that at all.”

Tributes left for six year old Alesha MacPhail at a house on Ardbeg Road (Getty Images)

Giving evidence earlier in the trial, Ms McLachlan refuted suggestions that she and the teenager had been in contact on Instagram in the early hours of July 2.

The accused’s defence lawyer Mr McConnachie had suggested the pair had messaged on Instagram, then met.

On Wednesday last week, Ms McLachlan told jurors she “loved” Alesha and had nothing to do with her death.

Ms McLachlan was staying in the house Alesha’s grandparents shared with her partner on Ardbeg Road, Bute, when the schoolgirl went missing after arriving for the school holidays.

Alesha MacPhail’s mother Georgina Lochrane (Getty Images)

The court also heard from Detective Constable Ian Wilson on the sixth day of the trial, who said the accused gave a “no comment” response when charged by police.

The teenager was arrested on July 4 and was taken to Glasgow for a police interview, where he responded “no comment” to questions.

On being charged with Alesha’s murder, he also replied: “No comment.” The detective said this was not unusual and was within the teenager’s rights.

Detective Constable Graham McIlwraith also gave evidence and said he searched the accused’s home and noticed one knife missing from a block of five.

Shown a photograph of a knife found on the shore opposite where Alesha had been staying, he said it “would appear to be the same design” as the Jamie Oliver brand knives found in the accused’s house.

The teenager denies abducting, raping and murdering Alesha, and attempting to hide evidence.

The trial, before judge Lord Matthews, continues.

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