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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 November 2006, 14:09 GMT
Jodi killer capital trial appeal
Luke Mitchell
Luke Mitchell was told he would serve a minimum of 20 years
A teenage killer who is appealing against a murder conviction has won the right to challenge the decision to stage his trial in Edinburgh.

Luke Mitchell, 18, was found guilty of killing Jodi Jones in Dalkeith, Midlothian, in 2003.

Three judges have cleared the way for Mitchell to proceed with his appeal.

Mitchell's legal team had wanted a number of grounds for appeal to be heard but the judges said only one would be allowed.

Fair trial

Mitchell was given a juvenile life sentence and ordered to serve at least 20 years in jail for the murder of his girlfriend, a record youth sentence in Scotland at the time.

He had denied murdering Jodi, 14, on 20 June 2003 at Roan's Dyke path, a shortcut between their homes in the Newbattle and Easthouses areas of Dalkeith.

He was convicted by a majority verdict at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Mitchell subsequently launched an appeal against his conviction and sentence, maintaining he did not receive a fair trial and a miscarriage of justice had occurred.

But after some of the grounds were rejected his lawyers tried to get them reinstated for a full appeal hearing.

Jodi Jones
Jodi Jones was killed in June 2003

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.

But the judges rejected letting in further grounds of appeal.

These included a refusal to separate the murder charge from other charges on the indictment, alleging possessing of knives and being concerned in the supply of cannabis, ahead of the trial.

They also included a claim that the trial judge misdirected the jury over circumstantial evidence, that the jury should have been secluded overnight in a hotel before delivering its verdict and over information about a possible connection between a defence witness and a juror.




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