SCOTLAND’S most notorious murder, the killing of 14-year-old Jodi Jones by her then boyfriend Luke Mitchell, has been thrust back into the spotlight this week with evidence presented that the case is a miscarriage of justice.

An investigative documentary is airing over two nights, putting forward the case that not only is Mitchell innocent of killing Jodi Jones – but that five other potential suspects should have been considered by detectives during the initial inquiry.

The first part of the documentary, Murder In A Small Town, made by Firecracker Films in Glasgow, aired last night, with the second part being shown on screens this evening on Channel 5. The film has already attracted controversy and been condemned for giving Mitchell a platform.

It features interviews with Mitchell – who was 14 at the time of the murder – in which he insists on his innocence. Mitchell, who has been in prison since 2005, has so far refused to accept his guilt for the crime – even though by doing so he could increase his chances of being released from his life sentence under parole.

HeraldScotland: Luke Mitchell arrives at the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh in the closing days of the Jodi Jones murder trial. ..20/1/05..For Herald News...

The documentary purports to have found serious flaws in the initial investigation.

The film poses the question: “Was an innocent child wronged by the criminal justice system? … Could this be Britain’s most shocking miscarriage of justice?”

Jodi Jones was murdered in June 2003 in woods at the village of Easthouses near Dalkeith. The murder, investigation and trial became a media circus which gripped the imagination of the public and press in Scotland.

The murder

AROUND 10pm on the night of the murder, the family of Jodi Jones, worried that she hadn’t been seen since 5pm, arranged a search party. Luke Mitchell took part in the search with his pet dog, meeting up with Jodi’s family.

At a break in a wall near woodland, Mitchell called out that there was something in the woods. His dog is said to have sniffed something in the air. Jodi’s body was discovered.

Jodi had been horribly murdered. The scene was described as a bloodbath. Dr Sandra Lean, a criminologist and Mitchell’s legal representative, says in the film that from the “minute the news broke [there was] hysteria, relentless media coverage [and] fear … that something like that could happen”. Headlines reported a “maniac on the loose”.

Mitchell’s mother, Corrine, says that her son was pinpointed as a suspect from the beginning. It appeared police believed he had led the search party to Jodi’s body – a location, officers thought, only the killer could have known.

HeraldScotland: Video grabs on murdered teenager Jodi Jones from Dalkeith, Lothian.Video grabs on murdered teenager Jodi Jones from Dalkeith, Lothian.

With Mitchell the prime suspect, police searched his house. Mitchell was quickly painted as a dope-smoking teenage Satanist. Lean says: “One of the things that made this case seem really scary … was this emphasis that Luke was a devil worshipper.”

Goth culture was brought into the case, and Mitchell was linked to the musician Marilyn Manson. Manson had painted pictures of the infamous Black Dahlia murder, which took place in California in the 1940s. The Black Dahlia killing was seen to bear some resemblance to the murder of Jodi Jones.

Mitchell, although only 14, was named in the press. Reporters camped out at the Mitchell home. On the day of Jodi’s funeral, he agreed to an interview with Sky News in which he was described as “unemotional”. Comments were made about the relationship between mother and son.

Finally, 10 months after the killing, Mitchell was arrested. His alibi claimed he was at home with his mother, Corrine. She would face a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice. The charge was eventually dropped against her.

The experts

THERE was no forensic evidence against Mitchell – only circumstantial evidence was used to convict.

Sara Gomes from Scotland’s Forensic Institute says: “Innocent or guilty, there’s something wrong with his conviction … we’re talking about someone’s life. You need science to put someone in jail.”

Her colleague, Professor Allan Jamieson, who heads the institute, says: “The evidence is insufficient to say beyond reasonable doubt that this was Luke Mitchell that committed this murder.”

Jamieson adds that “given the amount of blood that was generated … there should be a reasonable expectation of finding some kind of evidence being transferred” to the killer.

The renowned Scottish QC John Scott, who is also interviewed in the programme, says: “Despite extensive investigation there’s no forensic evidence to link him to the crime.”

Dr Sandra Lean adds: “If you’re going to find someone guilty it has to be on the basis of solid evidence, beyond reasonable doubt – that hasn’t happened in Luke’s case.”

Mitchell tells the documentary team: “I absolutely did not kill Jodi, and I’ve been locked up for a crime I didn’t commit. I will not admit to something I have not done. I want to clear my name.”

Two former Scottish police detectives –John Sallens and Michael Neill – who now work as private investigators, collaborated with the documentary team in reinvestigating the case. They, too, say “there’s absolutely nothing forensically. It’s a circumstantial case”.

They say they are puzzled why such a brutal and bloody crime would leave no forensic traces on Mitchell. “This would have been a bloodbath,” Sallens says. Jodi also fought and would have left scratches and bruises on her killer.

Forensics

ALTHOUGH forensic teams removed hair, semen and blood from the scene, none was linked to Mitchell. Mitchell was found with dirty hair and nails, suggesting he hadn’t washed, says forensic expert Professor Jamieson.

Former detective Mick Neill says: “To get out … get home, destroy every single piece of DNA that would be on your body, I find unbelievable.”

Dr Lean also points out that Mitchell would have had to walk through a residential area after the killing. “The idea a killer covered in blood would have managed to come up this street unseen on a beautiful summer evening is ridiculous,” she says.

DNA found on Jodi’s T-shirt matched that of a man called Steven Kelly, the boyfriend of Jodi’s sister Janine. However, it was heard in court that the T-shirt belonged to Janine and Jodi had borrowed it.

Another male DNA profile was found on a used condom near the body. Professor Jamieson says he thought this would have been “significant in terms of the nature of the crime”. His colleague Sara Gomes says the police “had another potential line of investigation and they focused on one person”.

The two former detectives reinvestigating the case for the documentary team asked why Luke Mitchell was the only member of the search party forensically examined by police that night.

John Scott QC says there would have been pressure on police to identify a suspect early and that “it’s possible to lose important lines of inquiry by developing a police theory prematurely”.

The documentary also claims “an examination of the case files reveals an inconsistency in the stories of how Jodi’s body was found”. It is said that initial statements about the discovery of the body were different to “the statement that’s used in court”. In initial statements it is said that Luke’s dog sniffed the air – implying it found the body. But in the statement used in court the dog didn’t sniff the air –which implied Luke knew where the body was.

The detectives say: “It makes [Mitchell] as a suspect fit.” Sandra Lean says the defence team tried to pursue this issue but witnesses said they didn’t remember.

Press coverage

MITCHELL was named by the press within days but not charged until 10 months later. His mother Corrine says there were “umpteen photos of him, naming him, bear in mind this was pre-trial, he hadn’t even been arrested but he was being treated like a criminal”. She adds: “Why do people think he did it? Because the police told the press and the press told the public.”

Sandra Lean says that the “prosecution were trying to claim that Luke carried out a copycat of the Dahlia murder from Manson’s paintings because he was obsessed with Marilyn Manson … there was no evidence at all that Luke had ever seen the paintings or knew anything about them”.

HeraldScotland: Corinne Mitchell (right), mother of convicted killer Luke Mitchell with Sandra Lean (left) outside Edinburgh High Court after Corinne's son was refused leave to take his attempt to have his conviction overturned to the UK's highest court.Corinne Mitchell (right), mother of convicted killer Luke Mitchell with Sandra Lean (left) outside Edinburgh High Court after Corinne's son was refused leave to take his attempt to have his conviction overturned to the UK's highest court.

In the film, Mitchell, now 32, says: “Other than me being a convenient suspect because I was seen as being out of the ordinary and into alternative lifestyles and dress sense and music, I don’t know why they went after me like this. It’s not as though I had criminal involvement with the police before any of this … I was the local weirdo, it was easy to put it on me, it was easy to make people believe these evil things about me.”

The other man

THE film poses the question: if Mitchell didn’t kill Jodi, then who did? Attention is turned to a man called Mark Kane, who lived in the area and was near the scene at the time of Jodi’s death. He turned up the day after the murder with scratches on his face. He also looked similar to Mitchell. Crucial in convicting Mitchell was eyewitness evidence which placed him near the murder scene.

A friend of Kane’s is interviewed who says Kane carried a knife and was “very, very disturbed”, and had been taking a cocktail of drugs at the time of the killing. The friend states that “the day after Jodi had been killed … he had big scratches on his face”, and adds he suspects Kane of the killing.

However, the former police detectives reinvestigating the case for the documentary team discover that Kane died last year.

Sandra Lean says the eyewitness identification of Mitchell “could have been mistaken … and the person they saw was not Luke but Mark Kane, which would have knocked quite a big hole in the prosecution’s story”.

One woman driving through the area said she saw a young couple prior to the murder and identified Mitchell from a photo line-up. Lean says this was the most crucial evidence for conviction.

The two former detectives reinvestigating the case recreate the eyewitness’s journey. They place a young couple on the same path and get a woman, unaware of the purpose of the experiment, to drive past them. On the first drive past, she doesn’t spot the couple. On a second drive past, the former detectives tell her that she should watch out for anything that may attract her attention. Again, she fails to spot the couple.

The third time, the couple are pointed out to her – with one detective claiming the couple are arguing, although they are not. When questioned about them, she misidentifies them both in terms of the description she gives and their behaviour.

It was 18 months between the murder and the trial when the eyewitness appeared as “star witness”, according to Lean. The eyewitness was asked if the person she saw was in court but was unable to identify him.

The two former detectives also look at two other men who were in the area at the time. The documentary explores alleged circumstantial issues which are said to make them potentially of interest. Both have denied any involvement in the death.

Police conduct

SANDRA Lean says that Mitchell was questioned by police without a lawyer for hours despite having “just turned 15”. She adds: “He asked for his mum and they wouldn’t let him speak to her, he asked for a lawyer and they told him he wasn’t entitled to one.”

Mitchell says: “The police were becoming increasingly aggressive in an attempt to physically intimidate me.” He says when he went to the toilet two police officers stood by him and shouted “confess you little bastard”.

The police conduct was later described by Lord Justice General Lord Hamilton as “outrageous”, the programme reports. The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission said Mitchell’s human rights were infringed during the interview. QC John Scott said the police conduct “beggars belief”.

Innocent?

WITH no murder weapon, no confession and no forensics, Corrine Mitchell says she thought at trial “the lawyers will know the truth and it will all come right”. Luke Mitchell says he thought the jury “would see through all the lies and all the misinterpretations of the purely circumstantial evidence”.

Lie detector tests are not admissible in Scottish courts but both Mitchell and his mother took a polygraph test in 2012 and passed.

Former detective Mick Neill says: “I do believe that Luke Mitchell suffered a serious miscarriage of justice and was let down by the legal system.” His colleague John Sallens says: “In my opinion, Luke Mitchell did not commit this crime and he is innocent.”

Forensics expert Prof Jamieson adds: “In my view, in this case there simply seems to be an insufficiency of evidence for conviction.” Mitchell’s defence team have lodged three appeals between 2008 and 2011. All were rejected.

Mitchell says in the film: “They’ve taken everything from me, my friends, my family, my home, my childhood, my adolescence, my early adult years, but they will not bully a false admission of guilt out of me.”

HeraldScotland: Flowers at the top of Dalkeith's Roan's Dyke path where Jodi Jones was murdered. Flowers at the top of Dalkeith's Roan's Dyke path where Jodi Jones was murdered.

Former detective Mick Neill says Mitchell has had the chance to admit his guilt since conviction, adding: “He’s refused. Part of the parole board hearings is ‘do you accept your guilt’ –and if people can come to terms and accept their guilt, it’s a good mark for them to get their parole, but Luke is determined not to do that.”

Corinne Mitchell says: “He will never, ever say he is guilty of something he is not guilty of – why would you do that? You would have to live with that for the rest of your life, he wants out acquitted.”

Mitchell adds in the film: “If it was put to me that I would almost be guaranteed release and parole if all I did was admit guilt, absolutely not, I would not do that. I will not admit to something I have not done. I will maintain my innocence if that means I stay in closed conditions for the rest of my life, if needs be then that is what will happen.”

Police have always maintained that the investigation was thorough and satisfactory.

The prosecution of a lifestyle?

I WAS investigations editor with The Herald newspapers at the time of the Jodi Jones murder, and I appear as a interviewee in the documentary Murder In A Small Town. In the run-up to the Mitchell trial I received a very strange phone call from a senior police officer in which I was told a number of unsubstantiated and shocking claims about Mitchell.

I was told Mitchell was definitely guilty. In all my years as a reporter –covering some of the most serious crimes in recent British criminal history, including major terrorist offences – I’ve never received such a phone call from police. A lot of the telephone conversation centred on Mitchell’s love of Goth music and his alternative lifestyle.

At the time, there was a moral panic around teenagers listening to music their parents found disagreeable. I wondered at the time if part of the Mitchell case was “the prosecution of a lifestyle”.

As a reporter, I later visited Mitchell in jail, and spoke with his mother. To this day, due to the circumstantial nature of the case, I cannot say whether I know for sure if Mitchell is guilty or innocent.

This I am sure of, though: if Mitchell did kill Jodi Jones then he deserves all he got for one of the most appalling crimes to ever take place in Scotland; however, if he didn’t, then not only is a monstrous killer still at large, but society did something terrible to a 15-year-old boy back in 2005.