Matthew Steeples asks: “Are intimidation tactics at work with a suspected arson attack on the caravan storage site formerly owned by the mother of Luke Mitchell?” and speaks with Dr Sandra Lean and Shaun Attwood about this most curious case
On Friday, the caravan storage site formerly owned by Corrine Mitchell, the mother of Luke Mitchell, was mysteriously torched.
Whilst Mrs Mitchell, whose son was convicted of killing his then girlfriend Jodi Jones in 2003, no longer owns the aforementioned property in Midlothian, that it was likely the subject of an arson attack is indicative of how passions continue to run high in a case where many believe the wrong man was convicted.
Speaking exclusively to The Steeple Times on Saturday evening, Dr Sandra Lean remarked:
“Almost twenty years after the murder of 14-year-old Jodi Jones in Easthouses, Midlothian, a building was set ablaze in a nearby field on Friday, 17th March 2023. Gas bottles inside the building could be heard exploding from half a mile away and residents in houses directly across the street were terrified – there was a petrol station right next door.”
“But what do the two events – the murder of Jodi Jones and the burning of an apparently random building, have in common? On the surface, nothing. The building and the land on which it sits belong to the local council. But that is now. Until just over two years ago, the building was the former shop and workshop of a caravan sales business – Scotts Caravans – belonging Corinne Mitchell – the mother of the boy convicted of Jodi’s murder, Luke Mitchell.”
“Luke has always protested his innocence, but, such was the level of hostility and hatred instigated by the media coverage of the case, both at the time and over the years since, that Scotts Caravans was targeted repeatedly.”
“After Luke was convicted, a deliberately started fire destroyed a large number of caravans stored at the site. After his appeal failed, another fire destroyed the remainder. Corinne Mitchell, who was never convicted of any wrongdoing – whose only ‘crime’ was continuing to try to tell the world that her son was innocent – lost everything. Her home, her business, her son, her health.”
“She was, after her son, the most hated person in the area. In the end, she was homeless and penniless, living in the corrugated tin building that had once been the shop and workshop area of her thriving business. For six years, she lived there with no electricity, no running water, no toilet, no heating and no money.”
“When Channel Five filmed a documentary about the case – and the horrific circumstances in which Corinne was living – Midlothian Council finally housed her. The documentary attracted a huge amount of new – and this time, positive – attention to the case.”
“Local people were furious to discover they had been misled as the truth about the case began to be exposed – dishonesty by witnesses close to the victim’s family which deflected attention from them and guided it towards Luke. It was easy to do back in 2003 – the media decided, from the off, that he was Jodi’s killer, naming and photographing him, at the age of just 15, telling readers he was ‘the only suspect.’ Two ex-detectives in the documentary concluded otherwise – there were, they discovered, others much closer to the victim’s family, who should have aroused far more suspicion than Luke Mitchell.”
“For two years, debates have raged about this case, both locally and throughout Scotland. But in December last year, more wrongdoing was exposed – this time, Police Scotland were caught, red-handed, destroying evidence that could have taken the case back to the court of appeal and seen the conviction of Luke Mitchell overturned. Local attention turned to those identified in the documentary as other, potential ‘persons of interest.’ Those people fought back – there have been reports of threats, harassment and intimidation by those people, towards people now speaking out in support of Luke. Tensions, once again, were running high.”
“And then, on Friday, the last remaining reminder of Scotts caravans was set alight. Locals took to social media in droves, concluding that this was an act of outright intimidation, intended to scare those fighting to have the case re-examined, into silence. To hurt and punish Corinne Mitchell again, for having the audacity to stand by her son. If that was the intention, it did neither. While the symbolism wasn’t lost on many, ultimately, an old, abandoned building belonging to the council was burned to the ground and the campaign to have Luke Mitchell’s case re-examined carries on unhindered.”
Going further and also speaking exclusively to The Steeple Times this morning, the podcaster Shaun Attwood very clearly added:
“Everyone I have interviewed who has been in prison with Luke Mitchell has stated that they truly believe he is innocent.”
Today, I join with those demanding further investigation into this matter. Whether he is innocent or guilty, the potentially unsafe case of the conviction of Luke Mitchell requires a complete reinvestigation.
Editor’s Note – Unlike as is the case in many publications, this article was NOT sponsored or supported by a third-party. Follow Matthew Steeples on Twitter at @M_Steeples.