A 16-year-old boy has been charged in connection with the death of six-year-old Alesha MacPhail on the Isle of Bute.
The schoolgirl was staying with relatives on the island when she was reported missing in the early hours of Monday. Her body was found in woodland near her grandparents’ home by Rothesay hours later.
The teenager will remain in custody and is expected to appear at Greenock Sheriff Court on Friday, Police Scotland said.
Detective Superintendent Stuart Houston announced the boy, who was arrested on Wednesday night, had been charged to journalists outside the island’s Rothesay police station.
He praised Alesha’s parents for their “incredible bravery” during what has been an “unimaginable ordeal”.
Houston said: “Officers and staff from across Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority have been involved in what has been a difficult and challenging investigation during which they have worked tirelessly to bring us to where we are today.”
He added: “I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank Alesha’s family who have shown incredible bravery through what has been an unimaginable ordeal during these past few days.”
He also thanked local people for their assistance. “The people of the Isle of Bute have rallied together since Alesha was first reported missing on Monday morning and I would stress that social media speculation relating to members of the community is both misleading and inaccurate,” he said.
He reminded the public that “incidents such as this are extremely rare and while the police investigation will continue, I hope that today’s announcement brings some reassurance to everyone in the local community.”
Houston added that people can call ParentLine Scotland, “which is available to provide early help, practical and emotional support and information for all families across Scotland.”
“Any adult concerned about a child or young person can call 08000 28 22 33 or visit ParentLine Scotland.”