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HOW DO POLICE FIND DNA? ALESHA MURDER TRIAL COURT TOLD OF TEEN WEB HUNT24 hours after girl's body was found, a phone believed to belong to the murder accused searched the web to ask ..

Byline: GRANT MCCABE

A PHONE said to belong to the boy accused of murdering Alesha MacPhail had the web search: "How do police find DNA".

The check was made on Google less than 24 hours after the six-yearold's body was found last July.

Jurors heard the 16-year-old was arrested the next day amid a murder probe but made "no comment" to detectives.

The evidence was heard yesterday at the High Court in Glasgow.

The teenager is on trial accused of abducting, raping and murdering Alesha on July 2 on the Isle of Bute.

Police cyber crime investigator Peter Benson examined an iPhone 6 "said to have been seized" from the boy.

Prosecutor Iain McSporran QC asked Mr Benson if he was able to find out the nature of internet searches and when they were made on the mobile.

The witness - a former police officer - said he could.

A search then said to have been made was: "How do police find DNA." This occurred on July 3 at about 12.30am.

Alesha's body had been found in the grounds of a former hotel on Bute at 8.54am the previous day.

The check brought up the site: "science.howstuffworks.com". This then brought up information on "genetic DNA evidence".

Mr McSporran asked the witness: "That would be offered as one of the many options on Google?" Mr Benson replied: "Yes." The phone also included a number of contacts including "Toni Louise McLachlan" and "Rab MacPhail".

The boy denies all the charges and has lodged a special defence blaming Toni for the murder.

Mr McSporran asked Mr Benson if there appeared to be contact via Instagram between the pair.

He replied: "There was no indication of that at all. That did not feature in the communications I recovered from Toni McLachlan's phone."

However, Mr Benson did accept it may be possible to delete messages on Instagram. He added that it appeared the boy was not a "heavy user" of the social media platform.

The trial earlier heard yesterday that the 16-year-old was held by police at about 5pm on July 4 at his home. He was then taken to Helen Street police station in Glasgow to be questioned.

DC Ian Wilson was one of the officers at the interview.

Prosecutor Mr McSporran asked him: "Did he make a response of no comment to questions and assertions?" DC Wilson replied: "Yes." Mr McSporran: "Literally saying the words 'no comment'?" DC Wilson agreed. The teenager accused of murdering Alesha lived less than six minutes away from the site where the child's body was found.

Giving evidence, DC Lisa Whitelaw told the trial it took five minutes and 49 seconds to walk between the lad's home and the site of the former Kyles Hydropathic Hotel.

She agreed with Mr McSporran that it would be "significantly shorter" were the person running.

The court heard it would take five minutes and 54 seconds to walk between the accused's house and the MacPhail family home on Ardbeg Road.

And she said it would take 12 minutes and 43 seconds to get from the MacPhail house to the site where Alesha's body was found.

DC Whitelaw described watching CCTV footage from the accused's property on the morning Alesha vanished.

A dog could be heard barking as the accused returned to the property and audio caught a "shh" sound.

At 3.45am, the accused left the house again, leaving the bathroom light on.

DC Whitelaw said he "is observed leaving the property from the back door wearing dark coloured shorts, no top and no shoes - carrying a dark coloured item in his right hand".

At 3.52am, the accused could be seen returning to the house, appearing from the left-hand side and jumping over a garden wall before walking up the driveway.

DC Whitelaw said: "He then enters the garden... by jumping the wall - he appeared to not be carrying anything."

At 4.07am, the accused was wearing the same clothes, the officer said. She added: "He appears to be carrying nothing."

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

Shown a photo 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. DC McIlwraith said: "It seemed reasonable a knife might be missing and that could be important."

Witness Karen MacBride, a fingerprint examiner with the Scottish Police Authority, told the court that fingerprints belonging to the accused had been found on the MacPhail property - but it was not possible to date them.

She took fingerprints from the stairwell leading to the MacPhail family home, where prints from the accused's right-palm were found on July 11, above stairs 11 and 14.

Asked when they were there from, she said: "It's not possible to age a fingerprint."

Questioned by defence solicitor Brian McConnachie, she confirmed the prints were found on a "chair rail" for a chair lift. She added it was "not possible to determine how long the print was there". No other prints belonging to the accused were found in the MacPhail home.

The trial also heard of jogging bottoms seized by police from the shore on Bute during the probe.

Forensic scientist Sarah Jones was asked to test if the garment had come in contact with a vest, pants and shorts worn by Alesha.

Miss Jones said there was "strong evidence" that polyester and viscose fibres recovered from Alesha's clothes had come from the bottoms.

The trial, before Lord Matthews, continues.

CAPTION(S):

EVIDENCE Sarah Jones, top, and Peter Benson. Right, Alesha's dad and mum Robert MacPhail and Georgina Lochrane

VICTIM Alesha MacPhail
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 19, 2019
Words:964
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