Author Topic: Luke Mitchell - Introduction to the case  (Read 5748 times)

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Luke Mitchell - Introduction to the case
« on: March 03, 2012, 02:11:05 PM »
Luke Mitchell (then 15) was arrested on 14 April 2004 for the murder of his former girlfriend, Jodi Jones.

On 30 June 2003, 14-year-old Jones was murdered near her home at Easthouses, Scotland. Her naked body was found six hours later hidden behind a high wall in a wooded area bordering Roan's Dyke footpath, a well-known local short cut running between Easthouses and Newbattle. She had been subjected to what prosecutors would later describe in court as a "savage knife attack." Early in the investigation the police suggested that the killer would be a man local to the area because of the location of where the murder took place.  It was claimed that Jones had set out earlier to visit Mitchell. Her mutilated body was later found by Mitchell, who had joined a search party that also included Jones' 67 year-old grandmother, Alice Walker, 17 year-old sister Janine, and Janine's boyfriend, Stephen Kelly (19).  The fact that Mitchell and his dog discovered the body very quickly despite a search at night, in poor weather, later played a major part in the criminal investigation.

     

        Luke Mitchell                      Jodi Jones

Mitchell was initially questioned as a witness but was eventually arrested and charged with the crime some 10 months later following months of media speculation,  including the repeated claim that the then 15-year-old was the "only" or "prime" suspect. At his trial at the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh he pleaded not guilty and lodged a special defence of alibi,  claiming that he was at home cooking dinner at the time of the murder. During the 42-day trial which followed the jury heard evidence from both Mitchell's mother and his brother Shane, as well as visiting the crime scene. The evidence of Shane Mitchell was crucial to the conviction; he stated that at the time of the murder, he had been at the family home, viewing internet pornography. He agreed that this was not an activity he would have engaged in if he thought anyone else was in the house and confirmed that he had not seen his brother that afternoon. In doing so he failed to corroborate Mitchell's alibi.  The trial is the longest of a single accused, and the costliest at 452,687, in Scottish legal history.

On 21 January 2005, the jury found him guilty after five hours of deliberation. Mitchell, aged sixteen at the time of his conviction, was condemned as being "truly wicked" by Judge Lord Nimmo Smith. He was also found guilty of a separate charge of supplying cannabis.

Mitchell's sentencing took place on 11 February 2005. Nimmo Smith told Mitchell that he would spend a minimum of 20 years in prison before being considered for parole.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2012, 08:53:01 PM by John »

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Re: Luke Mitchell - Introduction to the case
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2012, 02:32:50 PM »
Finding the body

The main plank of the prosecution case was "guilty knowledge"; in finding the body quickly despite poor conditions, Mitchell demonstrated that he already knew where it was. In his defence, Mitchell claimed that he went through a distinctive "V"-shaped hole in one part of the wall to find the body, because a family dog had alerted him to something suspicious. The prosecution stated that only the killer could have known the exact location of Jodi's body. To allow the jury to explore the plausibility of these claims, a mock-up wall was erected in the Laigh Hall, below Parliament Hall within Parliament House, across the road from the High Court of Justiciary building in Edinburgh's Old Town, where the trial was being heard. A visit by the entire jury to the actual murder scene was also arranged.


Broken alibi

A second part of the prosecution case was to discredit Mitchell's alibi that he had been at home at the time of the murder. Under cross-examination, his brother Shane revealed that he had been viewing internet porn in the house at that time. He agreed that he would only have done this if he thought the house to be otherwise empty. He confirmed in evidence that he had not seen his brother in the family home at the time of the murder.


Suggestion of burned evidence

It was stated during the trial that Mitchell's clothes may have been destroyed in a garden incinerator and neighbours noted a strange smell coming from the garden. No forensic evidence was recovered from the incinerator, which was an 11" diameter log burner, and one neighbour, in evidence, described the smell as "wood smoke."


Other evidence and unusual behaviour

Mitchell was known to be a fan of Marilyn Manson. The prosecution claimed that he had taken a keen interest in The Black Dahlia case of 1947, an unsolved homicide whereby an aspiring young actress was found murdered and mutilated in Los Angeles. Manson painted a picture of Elizabeth Short's injuries. The Crown suggested that there was a similarity between Jodi and Elizabeth's injuries.

A knife pouch was also found in Mitchell's possession on which he had marked "JJ 1989 - 2003" and "The finest day I ever had was when tomorrow never came". This was also considered evidence on the basis that it would be unlikely for anyone but the killer to remember someone killed with a knife in this way.

Mitchell described himself as a Goth and scribbled Satanic symbols and statements on his schoolbooks. Some of these 'satanic references', it would emerge later, were lines from the popular computer game "Max Payne." As well as dealing in cannabis he was reportedly a heavy user of the drug.

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Re: Luke Mitchell - Introduction to the case
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2012, 02:38:50 PM »
 Appeal

In March 2006, Mitchell was granted leave to appeal against his conviction (and his length of sentence) at the High Court of Justiciary sitting as the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh, on the grounds of the trial judge's refusal to hear the original case outside of the city.

In November 2006, Mitchell won the right to appeal against his conviction for murder. Mitchell's legal team had wanted a number of grounds for appeal to be heard but the judges said only one would be allowed. Scotland's senior judge, the Lord Justice General, Lord Hamilton said they would allow a ground of appeal claiming that the trial judge erred in refusing to move Mitchell's case out of Edinburgh following publicity ahead of the proceedings. Lord Hamilton, who was sitting with Lord Kingarth and Lord MacLean, said: "We have come, with some hesitation, to the view that this ground is arguable." "There is an argument that the trial judge failed adequately to take into account the circumstances that the publicity might have had an impact of particular strength not only in the immediate locality of the crime but in a somewhat wider area embracing the city of Edinburgh and other towns in the Lothians," he said. There was a huge media fanfare surrounding the trial and this may have affected the final outcome. The fact that the jury were not put into a hotel for the night of the decision has also been cited as a factor. The Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh heard Mitchell's appeal in February 2008, and in May 2008 his original conviction was upheld.


Appeal decision

On 16 May 2008, the judges' verdict was given. Sitting over the appeal were Lord Osborne, Lord Kingarth and Lord Hamilton, who delivered the decision. They ruled that there was sufficient evidence in law that Mitchell could be convicted on and rejected his other grounds of appeal, yet stated that police questioning of Mitchell on 14 August 2003 had been "outrageous" and was "to be deplored."
 

Appeal against sentence refused

On 2 February 2011, Mitchell's appeal against sentence was refused by a two to one majority. Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill, sitting with Lord Hardie and Lady Cosgrove stated that he had the utmost sympathy for the family of the victim and that he understood entirely why this murder should have caused such public revulsion. Nevertheless, he was of the opinion that the sentencing judge should not have imposed a punishment part of such severity on such a young offender. He stated that justice would be done in this case if the punishment part of the sentence were fixed at 15 years. He did not consider that they were precluded from that disposal by anything said in the guidance given in HM Adv v Boyle and Ors (supra). He regretted, therefore, that he had to differ from his Lordship and her Ladyship.[9]




Mitchell leaves court after the Cadder Appeal.



Cadder appeal refused

On 15 April 2011, Mitchell's bid to challenge his conviction for murder following a human rights ruling by the Supreme Court in the Cadder case was rejected. His lawyer told the Appeal Court in Edinburgh that his trial was unfair because he had no access to a lawyer during an interview. Lord Osborne sitting with Lord Hamilton (Lord Justice General) and Lord Kingarth told Mitchell that the application for leave to lodge the additional ground was refused. The appellant's appeal against sentence was finally disposed of on 2 February 2011 and in such circumstances there did not exist a live appeal in respect of which leave could be granted under section 110(4).[10][11]

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Re: Luke Mitchell - Introduction to the case
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2012, 03:58:57 AM »
So what you are saying is that he has options on several fronts whereby he is taking his case forward.  Am I right in saying that the new Supreme Court has taken over from the Privy Council of the House of Lords in determining Scottish cases?

Isn't that the process that Luke Mitchell's legal team are also pursuing at the moment?
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Re: Luke Mitchell - Introduction to the case
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2012, 03:17:45 AM »
So what you are saying is that he has options on several fronts whereby he is taking his case forward.  Am I right in saying that the new Supreme Court has taken over from the Privy Council of the House of Lords in determining Scottish cases?

Isn't that the process that Luke Mitchell's legal team are also pursuing at the moment?

He certainly has options but their outcome is doubtful given the circumstantial evidence against him.  The new UK Supreme Court is now the highest court in the UK where cases can be referred and yes, it has taken over the role previously enjoyed by the Privy Council in London.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2014, 12:25:16 AM by John »
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