Fresh appeal launched to clear name of Jodi Jones killer Luke Mitchell

A fresh appeal is set to be launched with the aim of clearing the name of teenage killer Luke Mitchell.

Saturday, 15th September 2018, 2:21 pm
Updated Saturday, 15th September 2018, 2:26 pm
Luke Mitchell at his appeal at the high court in Edinburgh. Luke Mitchell is led in handcuffs from the high court after losing his appeal.

The move will be the third appeal on behalf of Mitchell, who was 14 when he murdered his girlfriend Jodi Jones, also 14.

Jodi was stripped and stabbed to death on June 30 behind a wall on Roan’s Dyke path with the QC describing the incident as “the most gruesome killing of recent years”

Mitchell was found guilty in February 2005 and sentenced to a minimum of 20 years, but has always maintained his innocence.

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Despite previous attempts, he has failed to overturn his conviction.

A new campaign is now being launched, being led by a Scots criminologist, Dr Sandra Lean, who has dedicated her life to fighting injustice and defending those she believes have been wrongfully convicted. She has dedicated her career to the case, which happened in her hometown of Dalkeith 15 years ago and is set to publish a book later this year which she claims shows failings in the original police investigation.

Speaking to the Herald she said: “This would be the biggest embarrassment possibly ever for the Scottish police.

“It was such a big case, the longest trial of a single accused in Scottish history. He was 14 years old when they first targeted him.

“I find this in all of the cases claiming wrongful conviction. The evidence before the jury is not all the evidence and never has been, never will be. It’s the evidence that supports the prosecution narrative.

“Now people find that really difficult to accept. Unless it can be tied specifically to something that the prosecution is alleging, it will not go before the jury.”

The case became one of the biggest investigations ever conducted by Lothian and Borders Police.

As part of the investigation over 200 police staff were involved in the inquiry, taking 3,150 statements from over 2,000 people.

There were three main planks of evidence at the heart of the prosecution case, which was based entirely on circumstantial evidence.

Mitchell was convicted of the killing after the longest single-accused murder trial in Scots legal history. He was detained for life with a minimum of 20 years but has always claimed his innocence with no credible DNA evidence linking him to the killing.

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Sandra Lean said that she had doubts over whether or not Mitchell was guilty, and after gaining a PHD in criminal justice and has become a campaigner for those wrongfully convicted and currently works with the charity, the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation.

She said: “I lived in the local area. It started with doubts about how quickly attention had focused on Luke, and some of the stories I was hearing seemed so ridiculous and small-town mentality– a lot of gossip.

“Then over time, more bits of pieces just seemed strange, and his mother Corrine put a note through the door of my workplace one day.

“It said, ‘I’ve heard what you’re saying about my son’s situation, can you help us?’ I knew nothing about the justice system or anything, but I agreed to meet her and Luke, and they started telling me about what had been going on and where some of the stories that were doing the rounds had come from.

“What convinced me he was innocent finally, was access to all of the case papers in 2009.”

“I was having a cup of coffee with Corrine and her mum Ruby, and this lad sort of ambled in, the head down. And then he just walked over, and he stuck his hand out and shook mine and said, ‘I’m Luke’. Very quiet, very, very polite.

“He looked – I thought – haunted. He looked me straight in the eye, I need to make that absolutely clear.

“This is not just about justice for Luke Mitchell, it’s about justice for Jodi as well, because I don’t believe she or her family have had justice and I never have.”

In 2014 an appeal to present on Mitchell’s behalf to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) was rejected.