Luke Mitchell: A teenage killer obsessed with music, drugs and the occult
Mitchell has always claimed to be innocent of the Jodi Jones killing, but prosecutors painted a picture of a disturbed young man intent on violence.
Luke Mitchell was 14 years old when his girlfriend Jodi Jones’ body was found on Roan’s Dyke, a wooded path which ran between her home in Easthouses, near Dalkeith, and his in the town’s Newbattle region.
The teenagers both studied at St David’s RC High School and had begun going out in around March 2003.
On June 30 that year, the evening of the killing, Jodi had been using the Roan’s Dyke path as a shortcut to Mitchell’s house. When she failed to arrive or return home, the alarm was raised and at 10.30pm, Mitchell and members of Jodi’s family found her mutilated body, hidden behind a wall by the side of the path.
After Jodi’s brutal killing, details of the young couple’s relationship began to emerge.
The picture which emerged was of two teenagers, drawn together by a mutual interest in alternative music and a willingness to experiment with drugs and sex.
However, as speculation mounted about Mitchell’s potential involvement in the killing, the teenager continued to protest his innocence.
On the day of a memorial service for Jodi in Gorebridge, Mitchell gave an interview to Sky News in which he denied killing the teenager. He insisted he had never even argued with his girlfriend and as the investigation continued, he was filmed laying flowers on the teenager’s grave.
However, in April 2004, Mitchell was arrested and charged with Jodi’s murder. And that November, aged 16, he went on trial for the killing at the High Court in Edinburgh, accused of hitting Jodi repeatedly, compressing her neck, tying her arms and repeatedly stabbing her, both before and after her death.
She had suffered terrible injuries in the attack which were compared to those inflicted in the Black Dahlia murder of would-be Hollywood actress Elizabeth Short in 1947, which later featured in paintings by rock star Marilyn Manson. It was claimed cannabis-smoking Mitchell was a fan of Manson's art.
Mitchell’s defence team denied there was a connection between the killing and Mitchell’s admiration for the goth rock star, but the prosecution used various details about Mitchell’s tastes to build their case.
They said the teenager liked horror films and pornography, and had recently bought a copy of a Marilyn Manson DVD which featured a scene of two girls tied together near a track.
The jury was told Mitchell carried knives, smoked a large amount of cannabis and had boasted to another school pupil that he knew how to slit someone's throat.
Prosecutors also referred to poetry and essays found in jotters belonging to Mitchell, which referred to him having tasted the devil’s blood and contained the statement: “Just because I have chosen to follow the teachings of Satan doesn’t mean I need psychiatric help”.
Following a lengthy trial, Mitchell was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. His minimum term was set at 20 years, the longest handed down to a youth in Scotland at the time
Despite the verdict, Mitchell has continued to proclaim his innocence and his team have made a number of failed bids to have his conviction quashed.
They are currently proceeding with an appeal to have his sentence cut, arguing the 20 year term was excessive. Mitchell’s QC Gordon Jackson claims the minimum term should not be applied because Mitchell was a child at the time of his conviction.