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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 February 2008, 18:31 GMT
Jodi killer claims 'unfair trial'
Luke Mitchell
Luke Mitchell was convicted of murder in 2005
The lawyer for a Midlothian teenager, jailed three years ago for murdering his girlfriend, has told the court of appeal he did not get a fair trial.

Luke Mitchell's lawyer told the Appeal Court in Edinburgh this was because the case was held in the capital where it had received considerable publicity.

Mitchell, 19, was jailed for a minimum of 20 years for killing 14-year-old Jodi Jones on 30 June, 2003.

She was stabbed to death in woods near her home in Dalkeith, Midlothian.

Her partly-clothed and mutilated body was found beside a path near her home in the village of Easthouses.

Following her death, graphic newspaper headlines appeared, among them "Find Jodi maniac," and "Deranged Jodi killer soaked in her blood".

In my submission, anyone reading this material could only be left with the impression that Luke Mitchell murdered Jodi Jones and it was only a matter of time before they proved it
Donald Findlay QC
Defence lawyer

Donald Findlay QC, defending, quoted from newspapers which suggested a "satanic" element to the horrific killing and that a maniac was on the loose.

Mr Findlay said Mitchell did not get a fair trial because of the imagery of the newspaper headlines which would have been read by jurors in the Edinburgh area.

One of his grounds of appeal is that trial judge Lord Nimmo Smith blocked a move by Mitchell's defence team to have the trial heard at another courtroom in Scotland.

"It was a decision no trial judge, approaching it reasonably, could or should have taken," he said.

He said that throughout there were descriptions of Jodi as an innocent schoolgirl - but no hint of sympathy for Mitchell.

'Matter of time'

"In my submission, anyone reading this material could only be left with the impression that Luke Mitchell murdered Jodi Jones and it was only a matter of time before they proved it," he said.

The lawyer acknowledged that there had been media coverage in newspapers and on television across the whole of Scotland, but argued that it would have more effect in a small community such as Dalkeith where Jodi's death was the first murder for some time.

Mr Findlay also said investigations which may lead to new witnesses being brought before the court were still proceeding.

He said it would be later in the week before he would be in a position to seek permission to bring new evidence forward.

Mitchell is appealing against his conviction and challenging his sentence.

The appeal is expected to last about a fortnight, with the three judges giving their decision later.

Surprise evidence

Mitchell, who has always protested his innocence, was found guilty of murder after the longest single accused murder trial in Scottish legal history.

Mitchell's lawyers also claim the judge should not have allowed the jury to consider the case because there was insufficient evidence to find Mitchell guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

And they claim Mitchell did not get a fair trial because of evidence which the jury was allowed to hear, despite protests by his defence.

Their list of objections includes a question and answer session during which police are alleged to have bullied Mitchell, evidence of bottles of urine found in his bedroom and a biased selection of photos shown to a key witness.

The defence also claim they were ambushed by surprise evidence about Mitchell and mum Corinne lying about his age in order to get a tattoo.

The appeal is being heard before the Lord Justice General Lord Hamilton, Lord Osborne and Lord Kingarth.

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