A 16-year-old has appeared in court charged with the rape and murder of Alesha MacPhail, aged six, on Scotland's remote Isle of Bute, a rare crime in a community of just 6,500 people.

The body of Alesha MacPhail, who was spending the summer vacation with relatives on the island, was found in woodland in the grounds of an abandoned hotel near the town of Rothesay early on Monday morning.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is believed to have been a family friend.  He is expected to return to court next week.

The murder stunned the community of the small island which saw its biggest ever police investigation after Alesha was reported missing when her family found she was not in her bed at 6.25 a.m. at her grandparent's seafront property.  

During a media briefing on Thursday afternoon, Detective Supt Stuart Houston said: "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.

"I'd also like to thank local people for all their support and assistance during this major investigation on the island. The response to our appeals was significant both from those living here and the wider community of Scotland.

He added: "The family has also received considerable support from Alesha's hometown of Airdrie which was reflected in the memorial service held at her school."