Jodi Jones family angry as murder re-examined

Jodi Jones, whose body was found in Dalkeith woodland in 2003. Picture: PA
Jodi Jones, whose body was found in Dalkeith woodland in 2003. Picture: PA
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THE family of murdered Midlothian schoolgirl Jodi Jones have described news that her killing is to be re-examined as “unwelcome news”.

A family source said her mother, Judy, is “devastated” - after new forensic tests were ordered to identify her killer.

She is said to be “appalled” that the case is to be re-opened after 10 years of grieving.

The 14-year-old’s mutilated body was discovered in woodland near her home in Easthouses, in 2003.

Her boyfriend, Luke Mitchell, also 14 at the time, was convicted, on largely circumstantial evidence - of her murder and sentenced to at least 20 years in prison.

But now the case is to be reviewed by experts from the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, who believe advances in DNA technology will help confirm whether the right person was jailed.

Mitchell’s legal team said they were optimistic new tests could identify another suspect and help him clear his name.

The 25-year-old, who is serving his sentence in high-security Shotts Prison in Lanarkshire, was last night said to be “delighted” at news that his conviction is set to be probed.

Criminologist Dr Sandra Lean, who joined Mitchell’s mother, Corinne, in the fight to free him, said: “Numerous samples indicating the presence of forensic material were found on Jodi’s clothing and body.

“We’re told modern forensics can obtain profiles from the tiniest samples. If that’s the case, it must be reasonable to assume the person or persons from whom those samples originated can now be identified.

“There was very little mention of DNA at Luke’s trial despite the fact there was no forensic link between him and the murder. I’d like to see these samples thoroughly re-tested.”

The SCCRC - which has written to Mitchell to inform him that its committee has ordered new tests - will now have to ask the Crown Office for access to the items it wants to examine.

These will be sent, under strict supervision, to an independent lab for analysis.

Mitchell said: “I’m confident the review is being done fairly and thoroughly.”

It is understood forensics likely to be re-checked include male DNA found in the knot in the right leg of Jodi’s trousers, as well as DNA found on the fly button and zip.

Mitchell’s mother called the new development “fantastic news”.

“Luke is very happy because there has been no previous independent analysis of the forensics,” she said.

“This shows that the SCCRC is being very thorough. Luke’s DNA was never found on Jodi, which counters the prosecution case he launched a brutal attack on her.

“He has no fears about new tests. He knows his DNA won’t be there.”

Dr Lean said over 100 forensic samples, including “vital DNA” on Jodi’s trousers, were not tested during the original investigation.

She said: “The police quickly changed from their original suspicion that the attack on Jodi was sexually motivated to claiming that it was not - and this was also the prosecution approach.

“There was no testing of the DNA and forensic results for the defence.”

An SCCRC spokesman confirmed the case was being investigated but declined to comment further, saying: “Once we have accepted a case for review, we are unable to say more with regard to the details of the investigation.”

Mitchell has appealed his conviction many times but every attempt so far has been unsuccessful.

However, in April last year, he passed a lie detector test in which he denied stabbing the teenager.