Page last updated at 14:37 GMT, Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Mitchell suffers appeal setback

Luke Mitchell
Luke Mitchell has appealed for his murder conviction to be overturned

Convicted killer Luke Mitchell has suffered a setback after his lawyers failed to get documents they believe could help with his appeal.

Mitchell's legal team claim they are hampered without the paperwork for a possible new ground of appeal.

But judges at the Appeal Court rejected the application after hearing Crown claims it was nothing other than a "fishing expedition".

Mitchell was found guilty of murdering Jodi Jones from Dalkeith in June 2003.

A full appeal, lasting 10 days, has already been heard by the court and Mitchell is now waiting to see whether his conviction will be overturned.

I'm left to guess as to why it's thought this information might be helpful
John Beckett
QC for the Crown,

But while the judges consider the case, his lawyers were given a four-week deadline to produce any new evidence which might clear his name.

They have previously told the court about a possible suspect in the case who was said to have "ticked the same boxes" as Mitchell.

Judges heard the man, named in court as Mark Kane from Stirling, was said to have been near the woods where Jodi was murdered, as well as having unexplained injuries to his face around the time of her death.

But defence investigations into the allegations were described as a "work in progress" by the end of the appeal hearing.

Mitchell's junior counsel, Jane Farquharson, urged the court on Wednesday to make an order allowing them to see a number of documents, including records relating to the college Mr Kane is said to have attended.

She argued that defence investigations into the proposed fresh evidence kept bringing new issues to light, which the documents would help to address.

Circumstantial evidence

She said people they were questioning often had difficulty recalling precisely events which happened five years ago, and the paperwork could help clear some of those issues up.

"We are hampered because we don't have access to this information," she told the court.

But John Beckett QC, for the Crown, urged judges to throw out the defence petition for the documents.

"I'm left to guess as to why it's thought this information might be helpful," he said.

And he reminded judges about 17 areas of circumstantial evidence in the case against Mitchell which remained "quite unaffected" by the proposed fresh evidence.

Lords Hamilton, Osborne and Kingarth ruled they were not prepared to grant the court order, as it currently stands.

The senior judges will give their ruling in writing at a later date, which has not yet been fixed.

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