As a 25,000 strong petition is set to be delivered to the Scottish Parliament, we join those asking: “Could convicted killer Luke Mitchell be innocent of the murder of his girlfriend Jodi Jones?”
After hostage-turned-humanitarian Terry Waite CBE highlighted flaws in the September 2010 conviction of Mark Alexander, The Steeple Times examined that case and joined those campaigning for, at the very least, a review of the evidence gathered by a police force who we believe simply wanted a quick and easy conviction.
A campaign remains ongoing in that matter and after also taking up the botched Essex Police investigation into the March 2001 rape and murder of Stuart Lubbock at the home the since disgraced television ‘personality’ Michael Barrymore, we have also delved into the many issues surrounding other potentially unsafe convictions. Amongst those we’ve repeatedly highlighted are that of the October 1986 jailing of Jeremy Bamber – whose case is currently with the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) – and that of the clear victims of parental abuse, the jailed for all of eternity Menendez brothers, in America also.
Often highlighted wrongly as the “Scottish ‘Black Dahlia’ case,” the case of the brutal murder of a 14-year-old schoolgirl named Jodie Jones in Dalkeith, Scotland on 30th June 2003 is another example of a case that continually attracts claims that the convicted perpetrator could actually be innocent.
Whilst Lothian and Borders Police successfully pinned the blame of Miss Jones’s murder on her boyfriend, Luke Mitchell, and secured his conviction in January 2005, tomorrow, Wednesday 16th November, his legal team will deliver a petition signed by 25,000 individuals to the Scottish Parliament demanding “an urgent and fully independent inquiry.” They believe the conviction to be unsafe and cite that “upto 122 items gathered as part of the investigation into the death were never forensically tested.”
Mitchell – who had been dating Jones for four months prior to her murder – was found guilty of killing her by hitting her on the head and body, compressing her neck, restricting her breathing and stabbing her both before and after she died in January 2005. He was sentenced to serve a minimum of twenty years in prison and though several attempts to overturn his conviction have failed, he continues to protest his innocence.
Recently, Scott Mitchell, who has been the lawyer for Mitchell since 2010 but also involved with the case since 2003, remarked:
“Forensic science has improved dramatically. I believe DNA samples that went untested will overhaul the conviction if we can examine them now. Without a doubt, that will prove Luke Mitchell did not kill Jodi.”
A full statement regarding the alleged failings in the case brought by Lothian and Borders Police follows after the videos and photographs beneath this article. It has been compiled by supporters of Luke Mitchell, a dedicated group who have been in touch with The Steeple Times for many months now.
To join the official Facebook group focused on highlighting the supposed flaws in the police investigation that led to the conviction of Luke Mitchell, click here.
To join the 25,400 people who have already signed the Change.org petition requesting a “full, independent review” of the Luke Mitchell case, click here.
Pictured Top – Luke Mitchell with his mother, Corrine.
Editor’s Note – Unlike as is the case in many publications, this article was NOT sponsored or supported by a third-party.
Text supplied by a member of the Facebook group supporting Luke Mitchell that explains their take on why they believe him to be innocent of the 2003 murder…
The murder of Jodi Jones, a 14-year-old girl, took place in Dalkeith, Scotland on 30th June 2003. Her 14-year-old boyfriend, Luke Mitchell, came under suspicion, but it was several months before he was arrested.
Mitchell was tried for the murder and after Scotland’s longest single-accused trial at that time, Mitchell was convicted by a majority verdict in January 2005 despite there being no direct evidence against him. He was sentenced to a detention without limit of time with a minimum punishment part of 20-years. He has always maintained his innocence.
Jodi Jones left her house after exchanging a series of text messages with her boyfriend Luke Mitchell at around 5pm. She was found horrifically mutilated in a woodland strip behind a six-foot high wall at 11:35pm.
Her boyfriend Luke Mitchell and his dog Mia found her along with Jodi’s sister, Jodi’s sister’s boyfriend and her gran while they searched the path together.
Upon arrival the police separated Luke from the rest of the search party and took him to Dalkeith police station to be forensically examined. The police did not consider the rest of the search party as important witnesses until almost five hours into the investigation. Their clothing would not be taken for examination until around six days after the murder. By the time they were handed in they had either been laundered or different items to the ones said to be worn on that night were handed in to the police.
Forensics arrived at the scene at 8am the following morning, some time prior to this, two identification officers had gathered up all Jodi’s clothing and belongings but they didn’t record how they were collected or packaged.
Jodi was rolled onto a plastic sheet, branches were cut down to make the scene more accessible and the body was not covered leaving any potential evidence exposed to the rain. No attempt was made to estimate the time of death, there are no records of liver temperature, or signs of rigor or livor mortis.
Bin collections still went ahead that day, as did council hedge cutting, and the high school very close by was open as normal with students using the surrounding paths to access the school, while Jodi’s body still lay there uncovered.
Due to the way the crime scene was managed, a lot of potential evidence was destroyed. Despite this there was one full DNA sample recovered from Jodi’s clothing which was a match to another member of the search party, Jodi’s sister’s boyfriend, one semen sample from a condom nearby Jodi’s body and three full samples of DNA which have yet to be matched to anybody. There were many other partial samples found made up of blood, semen and saliva. There was no DNA from Luke Mitchell found.
Despite having other leads to follow and forensic evidence from the scene pointing away from Luke Mitchell, the investigation remained focused on him throughout. The general feeling in the area was that Luke Mitchell would be arrested any day now. In fact, it would take ten months for the police to make an arrest, one which was based on a wholly circumstantial case. During those ten months the media reported almost daily coverage of the case. Luke Mitchell and his mother, Corrine were shot to infamy overnight.
With no direct evidence linking Luke to the crime, the investigation focused in on music and ‘goth culture’ in an attempt to explain why Luke might have murdered Jodi. Both Luke and Jodi were a part of the ‘nu-metal wave’ that was popular during the early 2000s as were many of their friends. The police thought this was important to the investigation and told the media, only five days after the murder;
“We will be looking at what Jodi and her social circle were interested in and an obvious area will be their ties to the Goth movement. We will be examining if the manner in which she was killed has any links to the violent world that many Goths find fascinating and will be speaking to all her friends who had similar interests.”
Fear swept through Dalkeith and the rumour mill went into overdrive. Luke’s school jotters, with quotes from popular video games scrawled across the front were used to imply he had a fascination with the devil.
Police statements reveal that they were asked to search Luke Mitchell’s house for anything related to the singer Marilyn Manson. The police investigation believed that Luke was obsessed with Manson and in particular a series of paintings done by the artist depicting the body of murder victim Elizabeth Short, more commonly known as ‘The Black Dahlia.’
The crown put to the jury that Mitchell was attempting to replicate the killing of Elizabeth Short. In contrast to this, the pathologist who examined Jodi’s body said that there were markedly dissimilarities between the injuries sustained by Elizabeth Short and Jodi Jones and any similarities were superficial.
The only things related to Marilyn Manson that were found during the search of Mitchell’s home was a torn-up calendar and a CD that he had bought two days after the murder. There was no evidence found on Luke’s computer that he had accessed these paintings and the officer who found them online said they were not easy to find.
After ten months of press coverage naming 14-year-old Luke Mitchell as the only suspect and portraying him as a Satanist obsessed with Marilyn Manson, black magic and the occult, was there any need for evidence to convince the judge and jury?
At appeal the crown decided that the Marilyn Manson and Black Dahlia evidence was not to be founded upon. The evidence that had been the backbone of the investigation into Luke Mitchell for ten months, kept the focus on Luke when all other evidence was pointing away from him, and had led to a 14-year-old child being portrayed as already guilty in the press before he was arrested and charged was not to be founded upon.
Discarding the evidence that had been used to portray Luke Mitchell as a killer obsessed with occult rituals and the devil, the crown set out three main pillars of evidence with twenty adminicles of evidence interwoven between these main pillars, that they believe the jury was entitled to base a guilty verdict on. The guilty verdict was based on broad presumptions and inferences in the crown’s case which contradicts exculpatory evidence put forward by the defence.
The circumstantial evidence that was used to convict Luke Mitchell does not hold up to scrutiny.
Pillar one is concerned with guilty knowledge. The crown claimed that Luke Mitchell had knowledge of where Jodi’s body was and that he led the search party straight to it. During the trial the other three members of the search party claimed that on the night of 30th June, Luke had led them to the body and that he was cold and emotionless.
During the first month of the investigation statements taken by these other three members of the search party were consistent with Luke’s version of events – that he had walked past the V-break in the wall, his dog was ‘air sniffing’ and jumping up at the wall so he doubled back and climbed over the V-break. All of the statements began to change after that first month in similar ways to imply that Luke led them right to Jodi’s body.
Pillar two was the evidence of witness ‘AB’ who claimed she had seen a male and a female at the Easthouses end of the path. Despite the descriptions she gave not matching Luke or Jodi and the timing of the sighting contradicting two other witness sightings by people who knew Jodi and the witness herself failing to identify Luke Mitchell in the dock, this sighting was accepted by the jury and is used to infer that Luke Mitchell was at the Easthouses end of the path and in the company of Jodi before her death.
Pillar three, Luke’s alibi. Luke claimed that he was at home cooking dinner at the time of the murder, this is corroborated by two landline telephone calls until 16:25, and his mother and brother [Shane Mitchell, hereby referenced as ‘SM’] from 16:25 to 17:30. He left his house at around 17:30 to wait for Jodi at the end of his street, where he was seen acting normally and wearing the same clothes he had on earlier at school that day, by a couple of boys who knew him. The investigation would not accept Luke’s alibi.
Luke’s mum and brother were charged with perverting the course of justice. These charges would later be dropped without the jury’s knowledge, just before Luke’s mother gave evidence in the trial.
When he was arrested for perverting the course of justice, ‘SM’ was subjected to the same nature of questioning that the police had used on Luke.
At appeal, judges described the nature of this questioning as “abhorrent,” saying “at times the nature of the questioning was such that the questioner did not seem to be interested in a response from the appellant, but rather endeavouring to break him down into giving some hoped for confession by his over bearing and hostile interrogation” (2008 appeal).
‘SM’ was told that if he didn’t tell the police what they wanted to hear he would go to jail for three years. At trial, ‘SM’ told the court, not that his brother was not in that evening but that he couldn’t be sure. The actions of the liaison officer that was assigned to the Mitchell family and who took ‘SM’s’ statement also came under fire at trial. She refused to accept what ‘SM’ was telling her instead using leading phrases like “picture this” and telling ‘SM’: “I can’t accept that.” She eventually conceded on the stand that the investigation was a “shambles.”
This is a case where the police focused in on a suspect based on lifestyle and image, despite having knowledge of exculpatory evidence and ignored or at the very least did not thoroughly investigate incriminating evidence pointing to others.
Should a 14-year old child be imprisoned for life based on a weak circumstantial case when there is DNA evidence found on the victim that doesn’t match him and is yet to be identified?
When you see through the moral panic that swept through the police investigation and the small town of Dalkeith is there really enough evidence to convict Luke Mitchell of murder and can it really be said that justice has been served for Jodi Jones?