Mother of Jodi Jones murderer Luke Mitchell hopes police will revisit case and vows to clear her son’s name until she is ‘in a box’

The mother of Jodi Jones murderer Luke Mitchell hopes police will revisit the case following a new Channel 5 documentary - and has vowed to keep on fighting to clear her son’s name.

Two former detectives are re-examining the case in a two-part programme, Murder in a Small Town, and claim they have found “red flags” which cast major doubt on Mitchell’s guilt. The second episode airs tonight.

Tragic Jodi was found in woodland near her home in Easthouses, Midlothian, in 2003. Her hands had been tied behind her back, her throat cut multiple times and her body repeatedly slashed.

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The schoolgirl 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 at about 10:30pm.

Luke Mitchell was convicted of murder in 2005 following a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Despite being convicted of murder and jailed for a minimum of 20 years, Mitchell has always maintained his innocence.

Speaking to The Sun, Luke Mitchell’s mother, Corinne, has vowed to keep fighting to clear her son’s name “until I’m in a box.”

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The newspaper reports that she hopes the new documentary will prompt police to revisit the case. She said: “Once it airs, I'm hoping people do the right thing, because Scotland locked up an innocent boy, and Jodi's murderer is walking free.”

Mitchell was first to find body

The teenagers both attended St David’s High School in Dalkeith, had started dating in 2003 and grew up in neighbouring areas - Mitchell in Newbattle and Jodi in Easthouses.

They both had a similar taste in music and clothing and Mitchell regularly used cannabis.

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Roan’s Dyke path provides a shortcut between Easthouses and Newbattle and the pair would regularly meet at the east end of the path.

On the day of the murder, Jodi had left home around 5pm to walk along Ronan’s Dyke to get to Mitchell’s but she never arrived. At around 10pm that night, Mitchell told his mother that Jodi was missing and went out to form a search party.

At a gap in a stone wall, Mitchell shone his torch through and found Jodi’s body.

Dr Sandra Lean, a criminologist, told documentary makers that Jodi had been beaten, had her hair pulled out by the roots, was strangled and had her throat cut between 12 and 20 times.

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Mitchell claimed his dog, Mia, led him to Jodi but the police case against him would later rest on the fact he was first to find the body.

Retired detectives John Sallens and Michael Neill - now private investigators - claim the crime scene was “terribly” managed and that the body was left open to the elements. Sallens said the stated 5.15pm time of death may also be “unsafe” given a pathologist did not arrive until the next morning.

The pair also say the person who committed the crime would have been covered in blood.

Sallens tells the documentary that for Mitchell to have done it, he would have had to go home and change and go back out, but when examined he still had mud under his nails which suggested he had not washed his hands and his hair was still greasy so had not showered.

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Sallens said: “He would have made his way home covered in blood but no one saw him. This was a summer’s day.”

The former detectives also say there was no forensic evidence linking Mitchell to the death found either on him or in his house, despite police searching it three times.

Both Sallens and Neill say there were five other potential suspects who they believe were overlooked by police.

They tell the documentary of a used condom containing “fresh semen” which was also recovered from near the body but not traced.

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Allan Jamieson, head of the Forensic Institute, tells the programme that the condom should have been “given more significance than it apparently was.”

The private investigators also speak to someone called Scott Forbes who says nother local man, named as Mark Kane, apparently came to his home in Leith the night after the murder with scratches on his face, and told him he had been in the woods where Jodi was found and had been taking drugs and “fell in a bush.”

He described Mr Kane as “very disturbed” and claimed he would carry a kitchen knife around with him - but he also revealed that Mr Kane had died the year before.

Another potential lead involves two people known as the ‘Moped Boys,’ and the former detectives refer to someone seeing a moped up against the stone wall at around 5.15pm that evening.

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The investigators also believe Mitchell was treated as a suspect from the very start. They call into question his treatment by police as a 14-year-old boy, revealing that he was taken into custody and refused access to a lawyer and told he could not speak to his mother.

Speaking from prison, Mitchell himself tells the documentary that at one point he requested to go to the toilet and, while standing at the urinal with two adult males, was shouted at to confess.

Corinne claims police were determined to pin the murder on her son because of pressure from locals.

But Police Scotland deny the claims and say a “thorough investigation” was conducted and are “satisfied” that no other individuals need to be traced in connection with the case.

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Convicted

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.

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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.

And between about 5.05pm and 5.20pm a witness cycling along the path heard a noise which they described as a “strangling sort of sound” coming from the other side of the wall.

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The court also heard that, shortly after 5.30pm, Mitchell called Jodi’s house and received no reply but called again at 5.40pm and asked a family member if she was in. The Crown argued that this was evidence of Mitchell attempting to distance himself from the crime.

During his sentencing, Lord Nimmo Smith described Mitchell as “truly wicked.”

But Corinne told The Sun: “Luke was the complete opposite of what they said about him.

“He's a good lad, who had never been in any trouble with the police before.”

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Mitchell’s alibi was that he was at home cooking dinner when Jodi died - but this was rejected by police on credibility grounds. Mitchell’s brother also gave evidence which cast doubt on this.

Corinne told the newspaper: “I'm not just saying he didn't do it because I'm his mother, I'm saying that because he was with me.

“He was in the house.”

Corinne says she has never doubted her son’s innocence and that he could have been released years ago if he pleaded guilty, adding: “But he's not going to say he did something he didn't do.”

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