The 16-year-old boy who raped and murdered Alesha MacPhail has a ‘price on his head’, a court heard.
Aaron Campbell’s lawyer complained that the killer could be at ‘risk of attack’ or ‘self-harm’ in prison if he was named and pictured.
Campbell abducted the six-year-old from her family home before her naked body was dumped in the woods of the Isle of Bute with 117 injuries on July 2 last year.
Brian McConnachie QC, representing the killer, told the High Court in Glasgow that the teenager had a history of self harm and depression and had been tested for ADHD.
Aaron Campbell abducted the six-year-old from her family home before her naked body was dumped in the woods of the Isle of Bute with 117 injuries on July 2 last year
The child killer also worried there was a ‘price on his head’ and that publishing his name could make the situation worse in custody, Mr McConnachie told court.
But the judge said it would be ‘naive’ to think that inmates in prison would not already be aware of his conviction after his name had already appeared on Facebook, Twitter and Google searches.
Brian McConnachie QC told the High Court in Glasgow that Campbell had a history of self harm and depression and had been tested for ADHD
Advocate depute Iain McSporran QC told the court that he had spoken to police about a threat made against the teenager.
But police classed the anonymous source as ‘low grade’, according to the Daily Record.
Campbell could not previously be identified because he is under 18, but judge Lord Matthews overturned this on Friday after an application from the press.
The judge said: ‘I think it would be naive to think that publishing his name would make any difference to how he is treated in custody.
‘I can’t think of a case in recent times that has attracted such revulsion.’
Mr McConnachie QC said during the hearing on whether he should be identified: ‘The fact that things may be on social media is not a reason that the court should overrule the prohibition.’
Mr McConnachie also said the fact the boy had incriminated another person was no reason to identify him and that this would ‘simply be tit for tat’.
Campbell was caught out by his own mother’s CCTV as he came home in the middle of the night after killing the six-year-old girl, it emerged today.
Chilling footage revealed Aaron Campbell arriving and leaving twice outside his Isle of Bute family home on the night Alesha was abducted before her naked body was dumped in the woods with 117 injuries on July 2 last year.
Campbell (left) had received anonymity due to his age, over the murder of six-year-old Alesha MacPhail (right)
His mother believed her teenage son might have seen something relevant to the investigation – and contacted police after reviewing the CCTV footage, despite her son being adamant he had nothing to do with the ‘barbaric and wicked’ murder on the Scottish holiday island.
The cat-torturing, adrenaline junkie teenager – who was obsessed with gaining YouTube followers, playing violent video games such as Fortnite and recording himself performing acrobatic moves on a trampoline – had received anonymity due to his age, but a judge unmasked him today.
Campbell even filmed himself playing a game about internet horror meme the Slender Man. Fictional stories about the supernatural character – famed for abducting and killing children then dumping them in the woods – bear a chilling resemblance to what Campbell did to ‘little angel’ Alesha.
The murderer – who was also known to have killed and skinned cats before burying them in the back garden – appears to be egotistical and obsessed with the number of people who subscribed to his YouTube channel.
Campbell was caught on his mother’s CCTV arriving at his Isle of Bute family home on the night Alesha MacPhail was killed
The teenager was then seen jumping over the fence outside the property just under ten minutes later when he left the house
Campbell, 16, arrived home again at 3.52am but was caught on CCTV cameras running away from the house six minutes later
Alesha’s mother Georgina Lochrane (left, today) and father Robert MacPhail (right, yesterday) outside Glasgow High Court
In the CCTV, he was first spotted leaving the family home at 1.54am, when he went to the MacPhails’ home and took Alesha out of bed before raping and murdering her. He was then seen returning home at 3.35am.
Ten minutes later he left home wearing a pair of shorts but no shirt or shoes. He came back at 3.52am and then left again six minutes later carrying a torch. Campbell then arrived home for the last time at 4.07am.
Campbell films backflips on his garden trampoline
Aaron Campbell was an adrenilne junkie who enjoyed posting videos of him making jumps on a trampoline.
In one clip (see below), he tells viewers: ‘I went from doing front flip 360s to front flip 900, so I’m just going to show a couple of clips of me doing flips and that.’
Campbell pulls off a series of jumps set to a backing track
The clip shows him pulling off a series of jumps set to a backing track. In another short film, he thanked 50 people for watching his trampolining videos.
In a piece to camera he says: ‘Yo. What’s up guys? It’s Aaron Campbell here. I’ve got 50 subscribers, thank you, although I’m nearly at 80 it’s a rounder number.
‘This video is going to be a 50 subscriber special of some cool trampoline tricks for you.’
Campbell was told that the rape, murder and abduction of the six-year-old girl on the Isle of Bute on July 2 last year was among the ‘wickedest’ crimes that Glasgow High Court had ever heard.
Judge Lord Matthews, who presided over the nine-day trial, held a hearing today to decide if anonymity should be lifted, which was attended by Campbell along with dozens of journalists and lawyers.
In a short film on YouTube, Campbell thanked 50 people for watching his trampolining videos where he filmed himself doing backflips. In a cringeworthy piece to camera he says: ‘Yo. What’s up guys? It’s Aaron Campbell here.
‘I’ve got 50 subscribers, thank you, although I’m nearly at 80 it’s a rounder number. This video is going to be a 50 subscriber special of some cool trampoline tricks for you’.
Campbell appeared a clean-cut figure, well dressed and handsome – and his family refused to believe he was capable of crime. But he led a secret life smoking drugs and drinking heavily.
In the months before the six-year-old’s murder, Campbell – whose father is an oil rig supervisor who works overseas – had allegedly sexually assaulted one girl and tried to drown another.
Alesha’s devoted mother, Georgina ‘Genie’ Lochrane, sent her to Bute for a break believing she would be safer there than on their grim estate in Airdrie, 12 miles east of Glasgow.
Miss Lochrane said: ‘I thought that if Alesha was safe anywhere these days, it was on that island, miles from anywhere.
‘But it seems to me now that nowhere in the world is safe any more. I didn’t know much about Bute, or the people who live there, but after all that I’ve heard [at the murder trial] I certainly wouldn’t want to live somewhere like that.
Campbell appeared a clean-cut figure, well dressed and handsome – and his family refused to believe he was capable of crime
Campbell was pictured on CCTV multiple times outside the family home (pictured) on July 2 last year on the Isle of Bute
‘He doesn’t deserve notoriety’: Alesha’s grandmother blasts judge’s decision to lift killer’s anonymity – and says ‘let him rot’
Alesha’s grandparents Angela King and Calum MacPhail at Glasgow High Court yesterday
Writing on Facebook, Alesha’s grandmother Angela King objected to Campbell being named – saying it was ‘the last thing’ she wanted.
The grieving granmother said the teenage killer wanted ‘notoriety’ for his crimes.
Ms King wrote: ‘I thought I might sleep just a little easier tonight but no… I don’t want to speak of him the only person who matters was Alesha… he is never going to be released, he enjoyed his time in court, took pleasure from it, to me his name being revealed is the last thing I want.
‘Why? Because he doesn’t deserve notoriety recognition for what he’s done. That’s what he wants. Let him rot and ill see him in hell I don’t doubt he’ll be there sooner rather than later.’
‘It emerged during the trail that Alesha’s father was watching porn on the night she was abducted, and that he sold cannabis to her killer, whose circle of friends routinely used drugs and cheap booze and swapped sick jokes on Snapchat.
Alesha’s murderer was born on the mainland but when he reached school age his mother, who has family connections on the island, brought him to live there because – ironically – she thought it would provide him with a secure upbringing.
‘I wanted him to grow up in a safe place, a peaceful environment, and get a good education,’ she said at the family home, a solid Victorian house with panoramic views of the Firth and extensive gardens where the killer and his friends would drink and smoke cannabis.
‘They said in court that he was depressed but I never saw any signs of depression. He would get down now and again but he was doing well.
‘He had passed some exams and he was doing an engineering course one day a week. He was good at maths, and planned to go to university.
‘He wasn’t a violent boy. He was very normal. Yes, he smoked cannabis, but it’s rife among kids on this island.
‘I knew he was buying it from Rab [Alesha’s father] and Toni [Rab’s girlfriend], but what could I do? If I went to the police my son would be in trouble.
‘I just hoped he’d grow out of it. Anyway, it wasn’t every weekend. It was only occasionally.’
A pair of jogging bottoms found on Rothesay beach by police during the search for Alesha MacPhail. DNA matching the murderer was recovered from the waistband
A knife found on Rothesay beach by police during the search for Alesha last July
Murderer was a ‘serial killer in the making’ who posted YouTube videos of himself playing violent Slender Man game
A portrayal of the mythical online creature Slender Man
The 16-year-old boy who murdered Alesha posted YouTube videos of himself playing a violent video game based on the character Slender Man, it was revealed today.
Aaron Campbell was labelled a ‘serial killer caught on his first murder’ after being found guilty of raping and murdering the six-year-old girl while she visited her grandparents on the Isle of Bute.
It has now been revealed that the teenager had become obsessed by the internet horror character Slender Man in the months leading up to the killing.
Campbell played the survival horror game Slender: The Eight Pages and posted at least one video of him doing so on his YouTube channel when he was 14.
Slender: The Arrival came out on PlayStation 4 in 2015. It followed Slender: The Eight Pages, which Campbell played
He is also known to have enjoyed playing a number of other violent video games.
The paranormal character started out as an internet meme, and has been interpreted online as a tall, thin, faceless man who kidnaps and kills children.
It is believed to be the inspiration behind the stabbing of a girl in Wisconsin in 2014 – when two teenagers lured their friend into the woods before attacking her.
The character has also been developed into the video game Slender: The Arrival, which was released on PC in 2013 and then Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in 2015.
That game was based on the indie-developed Slender: The Eight Pages from 2012.
Nothing about Campbell’s demeanour during the trial marked him out as a sadistic killer.
He is handsome, in a modern, metrosexual way, with luxuriant, swept-over hair and a milky complexion.
Dressed immaculately, in a tartan suit and collar and tie, Campbell gave evidence with great self-assurance.
He appears to have been a popular, charismatic figure among his peer group and there was no shortage of girlfriends.
Indeed, for a year Campbell dated one of the most eye-catching girls at his school. However, there was another side to the plausible young man that first emerged when he was a boy of six or seven.
While swimming with another a little girl at the leisure centre, Campbell held her head under the water so long that she feared she would drown.
According to a neighbour, he developed into a local nuisance and had been caught trying to set fire to buildings.
More recently he is said to have sexually abused a teenage girl and shown compromising mobile phone pictures of her to his friends. Campbell has been compared to a young Ian Brady – a serial killer in the making caught after his first murder.
Alesha’s killer spent much of his time drinking heavily, getting stoned, body-building and using social media in a pathetic attempt to impress his friends. Campbell was also an adrenaline junkie who got his kicks by jumping into the sea from great heights.
He could not previously be identified because he is under 18 but judge Lord Matthews on Friday ruled he can be named after considering an application from media outlets.
He said: ‘I can’t think of a case in recent times that has attracted such revulsion. I intend to grant the application. The press may name the accused and publish images of him.’
Crucial to the decision to name Aaron Campbell was the accusations he made against Toni-Louise McLachlan, 18.
Representing Scots media organisations urging Lord Matthews to lift the ban, Anthony Graham QC told the court that the allegations Campbell made against Ms McLachlan was a ‘substantial attempt to pervert the course of justice’.
Alesha (left) with Mr MacPhail (centre) and his girlfriend Toni Louise McLachlan (shown right)
A police forensic team investigate at a house on the Isle of Bute outside Rothesay last July
Why has Alesha’s killer only now been named?
Scotland gives people under 18 statutory anonymity under Section 47 of the Criminal procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. But a judge can be requested to lift the ban, if it is considered to be in the public interest, so a criminal can be named and pictured.
Before September 2015, his identity would have been known to the general public during the trial because anonymity was granted to those under the age of 16. However, the law in Scotland changed to become aligned with the rest of the UK.
During the trial, Campbell’s identity was protected due to his age – however, he tried to pin the blame on Alesha’s father’s girlfriend, Toni-Louise McLachlan, who is 18. Campbell cited a special defence of incrimination blaming her for Alesha’s murder – and this was cited as a public interest reason for naming him.
Other public interest reasons referred to included the abhorrent nature of the crimes, in which the public will have had ‘substantial interest’. Another reason was that the prohibition on identification would end on Campbell’s 18th birthday, on May 16, 2020.
It was said that due to the murder conviction, the sentence would cause him to be jailed beyond his 18th birthday, when the anonymity would end.
Mr Graham said: ‘The incriminee enjoyed no statutory protection and was named and photographed and had her photographs published.
‘He has introduced the issue of sexual involvement with the incriminee. By the very nature of that defence and by finding him party to that defence, the pannel has introduced to the trial adult themes.’
No appeal was lodged by Campbell’s defence, Brian McConnachie QC. But the brief told the court that Campbell was ‘at risk of attack’.
Mr McConnachie said: ‘There was a history of self-harm, of anxiety and he had been tested for ADHD and was awaiting further testing due at the time of his arrest.
‘As far as he’s concerned, there’s issues both with attack from others and the potential matter of self-harm. The onus is on the party seeking to have the prohibition lifted and to satisfy the court.’
Media lawyer Mr Graham said: ‘It’s naive to think he remains anonymous on Bute, a community in no little part affected by this.’
And he said Campbell would be locked up at HMYOI Polmont in Falkirk until he was 21. Judge Lord Matthews told the court: ‘Children don’t usually commit offences of this nature.’
Mr Graham concurred and said: ‘It’s unusual for a child to be convicted of murder.’
He urged for Campbell’s name, his address, his images, school and ‘such background which is not protected otherwise’ should be allowed to be published.
Granting the application, Lord Matthews said: ‘I intend to name the accused.’
The media outlets represented were Associated Newspapers, BBC Scotland, Sky, News UK & Ireland, Newsquest, Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail, and STV.
Campbell killed Alesha because he felt guilty over rape, says expert
Leading criminologist Professor David Wilson said he believed Campbell killed Alesha in a sexually motivated murder over the guilt of his sex attack.
The Birmingham City University expert told STV: ‘There is some talk about this being about drugs but it is far more to do with rape and sex.
‘This is a young man being unable to come to terms with the realisation that he had raped a little girl and only way he could deal with that was to kill her.
‘This is a lot about denial and how it allows the person to continue to lie and their life being able to exclude the truth from entering into their conscious world.
‘That is what motivated him to tell this lie and if he is ever allowed safely back into the community then a great deal of work needs to be done for him to accept the truth.’
The court heard Campbell has a history of self-harm, depression and anxiety and that he has been tested for attention attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
During the trial the court heard he had a ‘dark sense of humour’, used cannabis and drank alcohol.
The Crown said on Friday that it would remain largely neutral on whether Campbell should be named.
Advocate depute Iain McSporran QC told the court: ‘I have no submissions that his Lordship should exercise his discretion one way or the other.’
After the trial, the schoolgirl’s family spoke of their heartbreak at losing Alesha.
Her mother Georgina Lochrane, said: ‘Words cannot express just how devastated I am to have lost my beautiful, happy, smiley wee girl.
‘I am glad that the boy who did this has finally been brought to justice and that he will not be able to inflict the pain on another family that he has done to mine.
‘Alesha, I love you so much, my wee pal. I will miss you forever.’
The MacPhail family said: ‘We can’t believe that we will never see our wee angel Alesha again. We miss her so much.
‘We hope that the boy who took her from us is jailed for a long time because of what he has done to our family. Alesha may be gone from our lives but she will always be in our hearts.’
Timeline of a ‘wicked’ murder: How six-year-old Alesha was snatched from her bed by teenager who raped and killed her in the woods
Alesha MacPhail was found naked lying face down in woodland
July 1, 2018
10.30pm – Alesha is put to bed for a final time by her father. Her grandmother is the last of the family to go to bed around two hours later.
1.40am – Around this time Robert MacPhail receives missed calls from the phone of the accused, to whom the court heard he had previously dealt cannabis.
1.54am – Aaron Campbell is spotted on his mother’s CCTV cameras leaving his family home.
2am – He forces his way into Mr MacPhail’s flat after finding a key in the lock. He snatches sleeping Alesha from her bed and carries her out of the property.
2.25am – Campbell is seen on CCTV carrying something – perhaps her body – along a beach. It is not known if it is before or after he raped and murdered the little girl.
6am – Alesha’s grandfather gets up and realises she is not in her room. A search of the house begins.
6.23am – Alesha’s grandmother calls police to report her missing.
8.54am – Alesha’s body is found in the grounds of the former Kyles Hydropathic Hotel.
9.23am – The six-year-old is pronounced dead, the cause later established as ‘pressure to neck and face’. She has 117 separate injuries to her tiny body.
After midday – The 16-year-old accused sends a video of the top half of his body to friends in a Snapchat group with the message ‘found the guy who’s done it’.
12.32am – A phone belonging to the killer was used to google ‘how do police find DNA’ and a minute later the internet history showed a page on collecting DNA evidence.
Police arrest the teenager in connection with Alesha’s death. He is charged the following day.
The accused appears at Greenock Sheriff Court charged with the child’s rape and murder. He makes no plea during the private appearance.
A vigil is held on Bute where locals gather to light candles for the six-year-old in Rothesay’s Guildford Square.
Alesha’s funeral is held at Coats Funeral Home in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire. Most mourners wear pink as requested by the family.
February 11, 2019
The accused goes on trial at the High Court in Glasgow. It emerges he has lodged a special defence of incrimination, blaming Robert MacPhail’s partner Toni McLachlan for the crime.
February 21, 2019
The 16-year-old accused is found guilty of abducting, raping and murdering six-year-old Alesha.
February 22, 2019
A judge agrees he should be named, and it is revealed to be Campbell, a violent serial killer in the making caught after his first murder.
Unmasked: The child murderers whose crimes were so horrific their names were released to the public, as Alesha MacPhail’s depraved killer is revealed
Children are usually granted automatic anonymity during trial but when their crimes are particularly horrific they can be named and shamed by the courts – as was the case today with 16-year-old Aaron Campbell.
The depraved teenager raped and murdered six-year-old Alesha MacPhail in the Scottish island of Bute last year, before dumping her naked body in the woods with 117 injuries.
He could not previously be identified because he is under 18, but judge Lord Matthews ruled he should be named after considering an application from media outlets.
The judge said: ‘I can’t think of a case in recent times that has attracted such revulsion. I intend to grant the application. The press may name the accused and publish images of him.’
In rare instances judges deem it is necessary to identify the young person responsible for such crimes which shock and horrify the nation.
Here, we look at the other child killers who have been named by the courts.
Depraved teenager Aaron Campbell, 16, enjoyed playing violent video games including Fortnite and Slender: The Eight Pages
Jon Venables and Robert Thompson – snatched and tortured two-year-old James Bulger in 1993
The pair, aged just ten, snatched two-year-old James Bulger from outside a butcher’s shop in Bootle, Merseyside, in 1993, while his mother popped into a store for just a few seconds.
The toddler’s mutilated body was found on a railway line in Walton, Liverpool, two days later. He had 22 injuries to his head, and another 20 to his body, inflicted with a 22lb iron bar and 27 bricks.
Venables and Thompson were found guilty of killing Bulger in November 1993 and were sentenced to custody until they reached 18.
Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, aged just ten, snatched two-year-old James Bulger from outside a butcher’s shop in Bootle, Merseyside, in 1993, while his mother popped into a store for just a few seconds
Both were referred to as Child A (Thompson) and Child B (Venables) throughout their trial, but afterwards the judge presiding over the case, Mr Justice Morland, lifted the reporting restrictions allowed them to be named.
At the time, he said: ‘I did this because the public interest overrode the interest of the defendants… There was a need for an informed public debate on crimes committed by young children.’
Venables and Thompson were later granted lifelong anonymity by a High Court judge. Following release from prison they have lived under new identities.
Mary Bell – strangled two young boys in Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Bell shocked the nation when she strangled to death two young boys in Scotswood, an inner-city suburb in the West End district of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1968.
Mary Bell (pictured) shocked the nation when she strangled to death two young boys in Scotswood, an inner-city suburb in the West End district of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1968
Then just 10-years-old, Bell killed her first victim, Martin Brown, 4, in a derelict house before two months later strangling Brian Howe, 3, in a wasteland.
She then slashed little Brian’s legs and belly with a razor and scissors.
In the subsequent trial, Mary was convicted of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
The jury took their lead from her diagnosis by court-appointed psychiatrists who described her as displaying ‘classic symptoms of psychopathy’
She was named throughout the trial, and after her conviction received a great deal of attention from the British press.
In 1980, aged 23, Bell was released from prison having served 12 years and was granted anonymity and a new name.
This allowed her to start a new life, and four years later she gave birth to a daughter.
William Cornick – stabbed teacher during Spanish lesson at college
William Cornick, then 15, is serving a minimum 20-year sentence for stabbing Ann Maguire during a Spanish lesson at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds, West Yorkshire in 2014.
He was named as the killer after a judge lifted an anonymity order. The judge set the 20-year tariff – the minimum time Cornick must serve in custody before he is released – but added that, after reading about him, ‘it’s quite possible that day may never come’.
William Cornick (left), then 15, is serving a minimum 20-year sentence for stabbing Ann Maguire (right) during a Spanish lesson at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds, West Yorkshire in 2014
Leeds Crown Court heard Cornick sent a Facebook message weeks before the killing, which said of Mrs Maguire: ‘The one absolute f****** bitch that deserves more than death, more than pain and more than anything that we can understand.’
He later told a psychiatrist: ‘I wasn’t in shock, I was happy. I had a sense of pride. I still do’. The boy also said after the killing that he thought everything he had done was ‘fine and dandy’.
Mr Justice Coulson said he showed a ‘chilling lack of remorse’ over the attack that saw him chase Mrs Maguire, ‘stabbing her as she sought to escape’.
Cornick was said to have had a good family background with ‘decent and responsible parents’ – but wanted to be caught and jailed to avoid future worries about life and money.
Kim Edwards and Lucas Markham – watched vampire films after murder
Schoolgirl Kim Edwards was just 14 when she enlisted the help of boyfriend Lucas Markham, also 14, to kill her mother Elizabeth Edwards, 49, and her sister Katie at their home in the village of Spalding, Lincolnshire, in April 2016.
Edwards and Markham, believed to be Britain’s youngest double murderers, became known as ‘The Twilight Killers’ as they went downstairs and calmly watched the vampire films together just moments after the brutal murders.
Schoolgirl Kim Edwards was just 14 when she enlisted the help of boyfriend Lucas Markham, also 14, to kill her mother Elizabeth Edwards, 49
Edwards and Markham (pictured), believed to be Britain’s youngest double murderers, became known as ‘The Twilight Killers’
Both Edwards and Markham were sentenced to 17 and a half years in prison in November 2016, and were not named throughout their trial.
But in June 2017, a judge lifted reporting restrictions on the pair so the horrors of their crimes could be revealed.