Family of murdered Jodi Jones slam ‘biased’ Channel 5 documentary which questions Luke Mitchell’s conviction
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The documentary, Murder in a Small Town, focused on two former detectives re-examining the case who suggest another five suspects could have been responsible, while claiming to have uncovered various “red flags” which cast doubt on his guilt.
Jodi Jones was found in woodland near her home in Easthouses, Midlothian, in 2003. She was 14 at the time, as was Mitchell. Her hands had been tied behind her back, her throat cut multiple times and her body repeatedly slashed.
She had taken a shortcut along a woodland path to get to Mitchell’s house on June 30 when she was brutally attacked. Her body was found on the path known as Roan’s Dyke, initially by Mitchell and then members of her family, who were all searching for her together, at about 10.30pm.
Despite being convicted of murder and jailed for a minimum of 20 years, Mitchell has always maintained his innocence.
In the documentary, private investigators John Sallens and Michael Neill claim the crime scene was badly managed and stress there was no forensic evidence linking Mitchell to the death found either on him or in his house, despite police searching it three times.
The documentary also refers to a used condom found near her body which was never traced, and the investigators speak to a friend of another suspect, Mark Kane, who says he apparently came to his home in Leith the night after the murder with scratches on his face.
An online petition demanding an independent inquiry into the murder conviction has now reached more than 16,000 signatures.
But the Daily Record reports that Jodi’s family has hit out at the programme makers because it implied on the show that members of her own family were involved in a cover-up.
Speaking to the newspaper, an unnamed family member said: “We were shocked at people on social media openly criticising the family of a murder victim, suggesting they were involved. A disgusting allegation and despicable position to put them in when their suffering continues.
“C5 and these ‘investigators’ have made the family’s suffering so amplified from all of the abuse from these armchair sleuths based on a biased and one sided programme. Why can people be so blinkered and forget the family?”
The family member also wanted to remind the public that a young girl was brutally murdered and that her killer is also in jail.
Channel 5 was also forced to pull the documentary temporarily when a man’s name was seen on a list of suspects on the screen.
Former Deputy Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police, Tom Wood, was second in command of the force when Jodi died. He told the Edinburgh Evening News that the Channel 5 documentary was “very poorly done” and “very one-sided.”
He also stressed that appeals against conviction had been rejected on a number of occasions.
Police Scotland has also denied claims made in the show and say a “thorough investigation” was conducted and they are “satisfied” that no other individuals need to be traced in connection with the case.
Mitchell was convicted of murder in 2005 following a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh and was ordered to serve at least 20 years in prison.
He has had four previous attempts to overturn his conviction. Two were rejected on appeal and a bid to have his case referred to the UK Supreme Court was turned down at the High Court in Edinburgh.
Another appeal was refused by miscarriage of justice investigators at the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.
The trial heard Mitchell was a fan of controversial American rocker Marilyn Manson, who painted pictures depicting the gruesome “Black Dahlia” 1940s murder of Holywood actress Elizabeth Short. Detectives believed Short’s murder was the inspiration for Jodi’s killing.
Prosecutors also told the jury how Mitchell was obsessed with Satanism.
They also called for the jury to accept evidence from a witness who recalled seeing a male and female at the end of the path where the pair normally met. The witness gave a description of a male but did not identify him in court. She also gave a description of the female which, apart from the jeans, fitted Jodi.
During his sentencing, Lord Nimmo Smith described Mitchell as “truly wicked.”