Monday, January 14, 2013

Convicted murderer protests his innocence over girlfriend's death in online clip

A convicted murderer has protested his innocence in an unprecedented YouTube video filmed behind bars. Luke Mitchell, 24, is serving a life sentence in a Scottish prison for the brutal murder of his teenage girlfriend Jodi Jones.

But now, in a landmark move, prison authorities have given permission for footage shot in jail to be made public.

Mitchell - who is serving a life sentence for the killing of Jodi Jones who was found dead near her home in Easthouse, Dalkeith, Midlothian, in June 2003 - has always being involved in her murder

The dramatic video clip - which is today being broadcast on the internet - shows Mitchell denying his involvement in Jodi’s murder while wired up to a lie detector machine.

The extraordinary move is believed to be the first time a convicted criminal has ever been seen taking - and passing - a polygraph test while in prison.

Mitchell, who has consistently denied killing 14-year-old Jodi, hopes that releasing the clip onto the internet will persuade the public that he is the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

At the end of last week, he told his mother: 'I want the world to see that I actually went through this process and it backed what I have always said - that I didn’t kill Jodi.'

As revealed in the Scottish Mail on Sunday, Mitchell passed a lie detector test carried out by an independent expert in a prison visiting room last April. As is normal practice, the test was filmed.

Campaigners backing Mitchell applied to the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) to use the footage to help clear his name. Permission from the SPS was required because the clip was filmed within prison grounds.

And last week the governor of Shotts Prison, the top-security jail where Mitchell is being held, gave the go-ahead.

The footage shows Mitchell dressed in a standard prison-issue blue tee-shirt being asked a series of questions - including three key questions related directly to the murder.

Mitchell, jailed for a minimum of 20 years in January 2005, was shown to be telling the truth when he denied being involved.

The convicted killer was interviewed by experienced polygraph examiner Terry Mullins, secretary of the British Polygraph Association, who has carried out a string of lie tests in English prisons although the examination of Mitchell has been his only work in a jail north of the border.

The release of the video is the first time footage of one of his prison tests has been shown publicly.

Mitchell’s mother Corinne said her son was delighted that the public can now watch him passing the test.

Mrs Mitchell, 53, who visited him on Thursday, said: 'He says he has never had anything to hide so he didn’t hesitate when he had the chance to take it. In fact, he had asked for a polygraph since day one.

'Luke told me he believes the test is a crucial indication of his innocence to go along with other issues, such as the lack of forensic evidence linking him to the crime.'

Mrs Mitchell has also passed a lie test, backing her claim that she was with the convicted killer at their home at the time of the murder.

During his polygraph examination, the camera focuses on Mitchell, who tries to remain still throughout as any movement can affect the monitoring process. On the advice of the examiner, he keeps his eyes closed throughout.

Mr Mullins is heard putting a series of questions to Mitchell three times, changing the order on each occasion.

Answering the three questions directly relating to the murder, Mitchell clearly says “No” when asked: “Were you present when Jodi was stabbed?”

In answer to the question: 'Did you stab Jodi on June 30, 2003?', Mitchell responds: 'No' in a strong voice.

He speaks more quietly as he repeats: 'No' when asked: 'Did you know for certain where Jodi’s body would be found?'

The question was asked in light of evidence in court that Mitchell led searchers to Jodi’s body because he knew where it was. He has always claimed his dog alerted him to the gruesome discovery.

After the tests were carried out last year, Mr Mullins concluded that Mitchell had been telling the truth.

He said: ‘I’m certain of the test result. It’s absolute. I can’t believe Luke Mitchell was convicted on the evidence that was available.’

He said Mitchell appeared confident but slightly nervous as he arrived to undertake the test process, which took nearly two-and-a-half hours.

Mr Mullins explained: ‘Most people are nervous because of the unfamiliar technology rather than the fear of failing.

'I spoke to him at length about what happened on the day of the murder, from before leaving school, and up to the next day.

'He got very upset when he began recalling the moment when he found Jodi’s body. During the test I asked him to close his eyes so he could concentrate and not be distracted by the prison officers who were observing through the glass walls of the meeting room. 'At the end I asked him how he thought he’d got on. He confidently said: “I’ve passed”. He was right.’

Mitchell was just 14 when Jodi was brutally murdered near their homes in Midlothian after she had gone out to meet him. He was 16 when he was found guilty after a marathon trial that culminated in 2005.

Jodi was found behind a wall beside a lonely path near her home in Easthouses. She had suffered a slashed throat and post-mortem cuts to her eyelids, right cheek, left breast, abdomen and right forearm. There was also a penetrating wound to her mouth and her hands had been tied.

Mitchell has always insisted he wasn’t guilty of the horrific slaying but failed to have his conviction quashed on appeal.

His case is currently being examined by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates potential miscarriages of justice and can recommend a fresh appeal.

Polygraph tests are inadmissible in Scottish courts but the report on Mitchell’s test was included in his submission to the SCCRC.

Criminologist Dr Sandra Lean, who has spearheaded the campaign to free Mitchell along with his mother, said the lie test provided important evidence.

'The polygraph result in Luke’s case reinforces what the other evidence has been telling us all along – there is not a scrap of evidence that Luke Mitchell murdered Jodi Jones,' she insisted.

She criticised Mitchell’s prosecution, insisting: 'The case against him was "purely circumstantial" – bits and pieces cobbled together to try to make a justifiable case.

'Yet the real evidence shows the prosecution case to be untenable,' she claimed.

A Scottish Prison Service spokesman confirmed: 'The SPS had no objection to the release of the footage, with the consent of Mr Mitchell.'

Original report here

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