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Amma_Schneider

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LUKE MITCHELL: PART 1

 

The case of Luke Mitchell

On the night of June 30th, 2003, the body of 14 year old schoolgirl Jodi Jones was found in woodland just yards from her home. She had been beaten about the head and face, her throat had been cut between 12 and 20 times, and her body mutilated after death. Police described the attack as "brutal" and "frenzied," and issued requests through the media for anyone who had been in the vicinity between 5pm and 10pm that evening to come forward. They also called for anyone who had noticed someone they knew behaving oddly – perhaps changing their appearance, or becoming anxious or agitated – to contact police.

Jodi, it was claimed, had left her home in Easthouses in the early evening of June 30th, to meet her boyfriend Luke Mitchell, who lived in Newbattle, a neighbouring village. A path, running in front of a stone wall which bordered the woodland where Jodi‟s body was found, was a shortcut between the two homes, and popular with walkers and dog-walkers. However, Jodi‟s mother insisted that Jodi was not allowed to use the path alone, because of its secluded nature, and insisted that Luke always met Jodi at the Easthouses end of the path, just a few minutes from her home, to walk with her down the path to his home in Newbattle. The path is not quite a mile long.

The alarm was raised when Jodi failed to return home at her curfew time of 10pm. Jodi‟s mother Judy contacted Luke (because Jodi‟s mobile was broken) to be told that he had not seen Jodi that evening. Arrangements were made for Luke to meet members of Jodi‟s family at the Easthouses end of the path to search for the missing girl. Luke was also 14 years old. He met the others as arranged, taking with him his German Shepherd dog and a torch. The rest of the search party comprised Jodi‟s 17 year old sister Janine, Janine‟s 19 year old fiancé Stephen Kelly, and the girls‟ grandmother, Alice Walker, 67. The finding of Jodi‟s body would later become central to the prosecution case. Luke would claim that he instructed the dog, which had had some training as a tracker dog to "Seek Jodi, Find Jodi," after asking family members if they had anything of Jodi‟s from which the dog could get a scent. (This part of the story has never been contested by the prosecution.) Some way down the path, the dog, he says, began sniffing the air and pawing at the wall, as if she had picked up a scent. Luke and Alice Walker returned a little way back in the direction they had just

come, to a V shaped break in the top of the wall, through which Luke climbed, and discovered the body. The prosecution would later claim that the dog did not lead him to the body, but that he went straight to the V, proving that he knew where the body was, and only the person who had murdered Jodi could have had that information. In spite of the fact that there was not a single scrap of evidence to link Luke Mitchell to the murder of Jodi Jones, and, in fact, there was a great deal of evidence pointing to other persons, Luke Mitchell was convicted of murder in January 2005, and handed down the longest sentence ever imposed on a person under 18 years old – a minimum of 20 years.

Witnesses and Identification

Initial press reports stated that Jodi had left home at around 5.30pm that afternoon. She was not positively identified at any point until her body was found at approximately 11.15 that night. Police distributed posters to be displayed in local shops, businesses, bus shelters and bill boards, all depicting Jodi as a young child, rather than a teenager – it would not be until late afternoon on Friday 4th July that up-to-date pictures were released. Yet on July 1st or 2nd, certainly well before these up-to-date pictures appeared, a witness, Andrina Bryson came forward to say she had seen a girl "matching Jodi‟s description" with a youth in his late teens or early twenties at the Easthouses end of the path at approximately 5pm. Checking till receipts from her shopping trip, the police reconstructed this witness‟s journey, and concluded that she must have been at the bend in the road between 4.49pm and 4.54pm in order to see these two people. She described the youth with "Jodi" as having long, curly or wavy, brown or ginger hair. This witness was later shown twelve photographs. One photograph was of Luke Mitchell – he was the only one of the 12 with long hair (although it was blond and poker straight), and his was the only photograph with a light background. The following day, this same witness "recognised" Luke (as the youth she had seen) from a photograph in the newspapers. Interestingly, although this witness claimed to have recognised Jodi from the description in the newspapers, in the ensuing court case, she was unable to describe the clothing worn by the girl she saw. Jodi was wearing a sweatshirt with a large, very distinctive logo that evening. Ms Bryson also told the court that she had only seen the back of the girl‟s head, and had not been able to view her face.

Other witnesses identified a youth "very like" Luke at the Newbattle end of the path at around 6pm, yet others still described a "mystery man" following Jodi towards the Easthouses entrance to the path.

Luke was positively identified, by some schoolboys who knew him, sitting on a wall at the end of his street in Newbattle, at approximately 5.45pm, and again some 10 minutes later.

What becomes critical here is the prosecution‟s claim as to the sequence and timing of events. They would claim that Jodi left home at approximately 4.50pm, and was murdered around 5.15pm, her body being stripped and mutilated thereafter. In an attempt to pin down these timings, police video footage timed the walk from the point where Luke was identified at the end of his street to the Newbattle entrance to the path where Jodi was killed, at just over 5 minutes at a brisk walking pace. Walking the full length of the path, from end to end, at a similar pace would take an absolute minimum of 10 minutes. If, as the prosecution claimed, Luke left to meet Jodi in response to texts they‟d exchanged earlier (the last one being at 4.38pm), we have to accept that Luke was at the end of his street when these texts were exchanged, he left immediately, took a very brisk walk up the path, covering the distance in the minimum possible time, and arrived to meet Jodi with just one minute to spare within the "identification" window produced by Andrina Bryson‟s sighting. Had Luke been at home when he received these texts, it would have been impossible for him to have reached the Easthouses end of the path in time to have been "identified" by Andrina Bryson – yet by Jodi‟s own mother‟s admission, up until the exchange of those texts, Luke Mitchell would still have believed Jodi to be "grounded" that evening – the decision to "unground" her had been taken, completely by chance, by Judy at around 4.30pm. Luke, therefore, would have had no reason whatsoever to have been anywhere near the path.

All initial reports claimed that Jodi left home at around 5.30pm, yet if she had not left home until 5.30pm, then she could not have been the person seen by Ms Bryson between 4.49pm and 4.54pm. However, it is interesting to note that the 5.30pm timing, taken with the positive identification of Luke in Newbattle at 5.45pm would have clearly and categorically excluded Luke as a suspect. Following Andrina Bryson‟s statement, however, the time of Jodi‟s leaving changed to 4.50pm, opening a "window of opportunity" during which Luke Mitchell, according to the prosecution, did not have a solid alibi.

Some days after Andrina Bryson‟s statement, some other witnesses came forward to say they had seen two youths "mucking around" with a noisy motorbike at the Newbattle end of the path at 5pm, and had later seen the bike propped against the wall, close to the V shaped break, at approximately 5.15pm. Neither of these youths matched Luke‟s description.

No-one positively identified Luke or Jodi between 4.50pm and 5.45pm. Luke‟s alibi, that he was at home preparing dinner, was completely discredited by prosecution claims that his mother and brother had "lied" to give him an alibi. There was nothing to suggest, far less prove, that Mrs Mitchell had lied, aside from the prosecution‟s claim that this was so – charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice against her and Luke‟s brother Shane, were dropped. Also, although it would be suggested over and over in court, and reported widely in the press, that Mrs Mitchell had lied in court, she was never charged with perjury.

In an attempt to ensure he had given as accurate a statement as possible, Luke‟s brother gave a second statement to police following discussion with his mother – in the event, this was used against the Mitchell family, the prosecution claiming it as "evidence" that Mrs Mitchell had persuaded Shane also to lie to cover for Luke, even though it is clear from the two statements that Shane is simply trying to further clarify a slight ambiguity in his earlier statement. Other witnesses who admitted discussing their statements before talking to police were not accused of any wrongdoing – indeed, the statements produced as a result of their discussions were later used against Luke Mitchell in evidence!

The Police Investigation

On the night Jodi‟s body was found, police officers arrived without tracker dogs, although they had access to such dogs. Luke was taken directly from the scene to Dalkeith Police Station, but the remaining three members of the search party were not. In spite of the fact that he was just 14 years old, he was stripped and questioned without the presence of a responsible adult, being told his clothing was needed for forensic examination as "routine procedure." Later, it would become apparent that none of the other members of the search party had had their clothes taken in this manner, a point which would be of great significance.

A forensics officer who arrived at the scene was unable to climb over the wall to get to the body because she had a "bad back." As a result, the body was left, uncovered,

in the rain, for a further 7 – 8 hours, until another forensics officer, a Mr Scrimger, attended the following morning. By the time he arrived, the body had been moved, and items around it gathered up.

That same morning, although the location of the body itself had been cordoned off, local schoolchildren were walking through a field and playing fields directly adjacent to the scene, council gardeners were cutting hedgerows in the immediate vicinity, and the refuse collection went ahead as normal. Later, in court, Mr Scrimger would be forced to admit that the crime scene had not been "ideally managed" - it would later emerge that the body had been rolled onto plastic sheeting prior to forensic examination.

On Friday 4th July, Luke was taken for further questioning, and his house searched amidst a blaze of media coverage. (Later that day, the first up-to-date photographs of Jodi were released.) On Saturday July 5th, police appealed for the two youths on the moped to come forward (this was the first mention of these youths), and by Monday July 7th, reported that those youths had come forward, and been eliminated from the enquiry. This was in spite of the fact that, on Friday 4th July, a police source had reported that the results of DNA and other forensic tests were expected to take approximately another week to be returned. This begs the question, of course, on what grounds were these two youths eliminated from the enquiry?

On August 14th, some six weeks later, the police arrived at the Mitchell household at 7.25am. A huge contingent of reporters and photographers was already waiting, and Luke was photographed being led away in handcuffs. Luke Mitchell had just turned 15 years old, yet the police did nothing to shield his identity. The question has never been answered as to how such a large group of press knew to congregate outside the Mitchell home at that time of the morning on that particular day. Luke was again released without charge, but the tone of press reports claiming to be from police sources had, by that stage, begun to carry the clear and obvious implication that Luke was the only suspect, and that police were just gathering enough information to prove the point.

On September 7th 2003, for example, the Sunday Herald printed the following:

"Meanwhile, detectives say they are focusing on only one suspect in the hunt for Jodi’s killer. A police source added: "Although we are centering the

investigation on one suspect, we are not doing this to the exclusion of all other possibilities – to do that would be to court disaster. There are other lines of inquiry – such as vagrants who had been in the area – but as time goes by these are being eliminated. Police say they were "still interested" in Luke, particularly in relation to the last meeting he had with Jodi and the fact that he was involved in finding her body."

The implication is obvious, but the police did nothing to refute or discourage these reports, although they did "break their silence" to quash rumours that the murder had been ritualistic, or had had black magic or satanic connotations (as reported in a few newspapers.) How ironic, then, that this satanic connection would ultimately provide one of the main planks in the prosecution‟s case!

On November 25th 2003, the Edinburgh Evening News reported that a dossier had been submitted by Lothian and Borders Police to the Procurator Fiscal, naming Luke Mitchell as the only suspect. The police did not deny this report, re-iterating only that a report had been submitted. He was still, at that time, only 15 years old.

In spite of a massive police investigation, the murder weapon was never recovered.

Although the report was sent to the procurator fiscal in November 2003, Luke was not arrested until April 2004. He was, at that point, charged with attacking Jodi, striking her about the head and face, compressing her neck until she fell to the ground, and repeatedly striking her with a knife. He was also charged with possession of a knife or knives, and "in relation to the supply of cannabis." He was held under the 110 day rule, meaning that he had to be brought to trial or released by the end of that period. Two weeks and two days before the end of that period, Luke Mitchell turned 16. This had two important effects – firstly, he would be tried as an adult. Secondly, the press, who had freely named and photographed him (even though he was a minor) until his arrest, had been prohibited from doing so after his arrest. However, following his 16th birthday, in that critical two week period prior to the trial, they were once again free to name him and print his photograph. At this stage, they were also free to report that his mother and brother had been charged with "attempting to pervert the course of justice."
 

The trial and the evidence

The evidence presented in court was purely circumstantial, and based on speculation and innuendo. The prosecution claimed that Luke had known where the body lay, and had carried out an extremely cold and calculating plan. He had escaped without detection, and his mother had burned his clothes in the back garden. His fascination with the satanic was presented as evidence of his preoccupation with evil. School jotters scribbled with so-called satanic slogans, along with essays questioning Christianity and the existence of God were produced to back up these claims, yet two of the slogans, which were widely reported, were actually lines from the popular computer game, Max Payne.

DNA found on Jodi‟s underwear and trainer belonged to two people, neither of which was Luke. The DNA on her underwear, shown to be from semen, belonged to Stephen Kelly, her sister‟s fiancé. This was explained away thus: Jodi had borrowed her sister‟s T shirt, and the DNA had transferred from the T shirt to her bra. The only proof that this was the case is the word of Janine Jones and Stephen Kelly himself. Further, Jodi lived with her mother, and Janine lived with her Grandmother. Judy Jones claimed Jodi had "gone upstairs to get ready to meet Luke" that evening. Therefore, she had changed into a semen stained t-shirt, borrowed from her sister at an earlier date, but not washed? The DNA on her trainer remains unidentified, in spite of later police claims that "no DNA at the scene was unaccounted for" – this statement would later come back to haunt the investigating team.

John Ferris, Jodi‟s cousin, and Gordon Dickie, a second cousin, were the two youths on the moped that evening. However, it emerged that when they had finally come forward after almost a week of pleas from the police for anyone who had been in the vicinity, they both lied to police about the time they had been on the path. John Ferris, who had long, curly, reddish brown hair had hacked it off himself after reports emerged that police were looking for someone fitting that description. He could not explain why he had done so, but agreed that he had done so before contacting police. He was reported as having been shaking whilst watching a television appeal for the youths on the moped to come forward. These two did not even come to the attention of police for almost a week after Jodi‟s death, yet investigators eliminated them from the enquiry within 48 hours, before the results of DNA tests were returned. The moped, and the clothes they were wearing that evening were never tested for forensics. John Ferris would go on to give damning (but uncorroborated) testimony against Luke – that he (Luke) had left a knife at a friend‟s house which

Ferris had handed to police, that Ferris had witnessed Luke jabbing Jodi in the leg with a knife, telling her to shut up, and so forth. John Ferris was a drug dealer, who admitted supplying Luke and others with cannabis. John Ferris was never charged "in relation to the supply of cannabis."

A great deal was made of the "fact" that a parka jacket that Luke had been wearing that night had disappeared, "burned," the prosecution claimed, in a log burner in the back garden by Luke‟s mother Corrine. No evidence was ever provided as to how this was achieved – Luke would have had to travel up a wide street, in broad day light to his front door, without being seen, (at a time when people would be beginning to arrive home from work), get into the house, and stripped out of the incriminating clothing without leaving a single trace of forensic evidence. Nothing was found in the contents of the log burner to suggest that any articles of clothing had been burned there, far less a bulky, eyelet studded jacket. Furthermore, witnesses who claimed to have noticed "burning smells" coming from the garden that evening reported these as being "between 6.30pm and 7.30pm" and later, "some time around 10pm." Since Luke had been positively identified at the end of his street at 5.45pm, is it really conceivable that his mother was still trying to burn the evidence, in her own garden, some 4 hours later? It was light until around 10pm, Jodi had been murdered in an area popular with walkers; her body could have been discovered at any moment. Also, to return momentarily to the timing aspect of the prosecution‟s claims, Jodi, it is alleged, was murdered at 5.15pm. Just 30 minutes remain, therefore, for Luke, had he been the killer, to strip and mutilate the body, get back to his own house, strip out of all of his clothing and get cleaned up and changed, and organise for his mother to dispose of the evidence, then return to the wall at the end of his street.

Several witnesses were produced in court to say they had seen Luke Mitchell wearing such a parka jacket. Indeed, several hundred people could honestly have made the same claim, since he had been pictured in newspapers wearing one. The ludicrous (and completely unsubstantiated) claim by the prosecution was that Corinne Mitchell had burned the parka jacket her son had been wearing that night, then gone out and bought him an identical one to cover up for the "missing" one. The necessary proof that Luke owned a parka jacket prior to Jodi‟s death was never produced. Receipts proving that the parka jacket had been bought after Jodi‟s death were produced, but the prosecution dismissed these as irrelevant, continuing to claim that this was a replacement jacket.

If Luke Mitchell had committed such a brutal murder, wearing such a recognisable garment, is it feasible to believe that his mother would provide him with an identical (and therefore readily identifiable) one? It simply makes no sense – having disposed of the jacket, the obvious move would have been to buy something completely different.

It was also claimed that Corrine Mitchell had lied to give her son an alibi, as had his brother Shane. The prosecution did not back up these claims with evidence – rather, it opted for character assassination instead, introducing, for example, the completely unrelated suggestion that Shane had been "viewing pornography" on the internet, in an attempt to both discredit and humiliate him.

Again, these events raise the question of timing. For Corinne Mitchell to have received the clothes to be burned in the back garden, it has to be accepted that Luke must have returned home prior to his appearance on the wall at the end of the road at 5.45pm. The prosecution contention that he was not "at home" between 5pm and 5.45pm begins to unravel at this point – how did the clothing, alleged to have been burned in the garden, get to his home without him? There is not, and has never been, any suggestion that Corinne Mitchell collected clothing from anywhere else that evening – indeed, other, concrete evidence, such as cctv footage in a local store, rules out any such eventuality.

Jodi was brutally murdered. Her throat was cut several times, and her body mutilated, some of the injuries being very precisely inflicted after death. She had been stripped, her arms tied behind her back with her own jeans, after her throat had been cut, the prosecution claimed. The police had stated repeatedly that her killer would have been "heavily bloodstained" and that she had "fought to the end" (a fact later confirmed by the pathologist), so they were looking for someone with fresh scratches or other injuries. When Luke Mitchell was examined by police that night, he did not have a single mark on him. No traces of Jodi‟s DNA were ever found on him, nor his on her.

According to William Clegg QC, in a completely separate case,

" this lack of forensic evidence {is} extremely unusual." Clegg quoted Lockhart's Theory - the accepted foundation of forensic science - which states that 'every contact leaves a trace'. "That being so," said Clegg, 'the murderer would have left a trace of himself at the scene.‟"

If this theory is "the accepted foundation of forensic science," then the weight of forensic science would appear to be stating, quite categorically, that Luke Mitchell was not present at the scene, given the amount of contact between Jodi and the person who murdered her.

On two occasions, expert witnesses made statements which fly in the face of all the evidence, in their attempt to support the prosecution case. Susan Ure, who had been involved with examining DNA found on Jodi‟s clothing and body, stated that a stain had been found which was "similar in parts to parts of DNA belonging to Luke" – in other words, No Match! This is a clear example of wording a statement in a specific way so as to mislead – what this woman was clearly saying was that there were not enough similarities between the two pieces of DNA to conclude a match with Luke‟s, yet it is stated in such a way that is sounds like she is suggesting exactly the opposite! The fact of the matter is that all of us have parts of our DNA which are similar to parts of other people‟s DNA.

Mr Scrimger, the forensics officer who was first to examine the scene of the crime, stated that the killer would "not necessarily" be heavily bloodstained. To back this up, he agreed with the prosecution suggestion that Jodi may have been sitting or kneeling when her throat was cut from behind, explaining a blood spray stain on the wall being the result of the blood spraying forwards – i.e., away from the killer. However, there are a few problems with this explanation – firstly, the case against Luke was that he had compressed her neck until she fell, unconscious, to the ground. Since we know that unconscious people tend not to sit or kneel, Mr Scrimger‟s explanation requires us to now believe that the killer was holding Jodi in a sitting or kneeling position. In this case, he is far more likely to have become bloodstained. Further, the case against Luke claims that he stripped her, tied her hands behind her back with her trousers and mutilated the body, all after he cut her throat. Mr Scrimger had to concede that, whilst the killer would "not necessarily" have been heavily bloodstained, it was "highly likely" that he would have been.

Once again, we are faced with serious anomalies in the prosecution case. Several witnesses were identified as having been on the path at the critical time that evening. In total there were a minimum of five – John Ferris, Gordon Dickie, his father, David Dickie, Stephen Kelly, a witness who claimed to have heard a disturbance behind the wall, and the "mystery man" seen following Jodi onto the path. Yet of the four who have spoken to police, none makes any mention of having seen either Luke or

Jodi, or indeed, any of the others, on the path. At this point, the murderer is highly likely to have been heavily bloodstained, probably scratched or having other injuries consistent with having been in a fight, almost certainly behaving in an agitated manner, and attempting to flee the scene. It is possible, once these factors are taken into consideration, that Jodi Jones was not murdered at the time all of these other people were known to be on the path, and we are required, once more, to consider the original time of Jodi leaving home as reported at 5.30pm.

Due to the scarcity of definitive evidence (and perhaps because of the mounting evidence pointing away from Luke Mitchell as the murderer), in a highly dubious move, the prosecution introduced "evidence" pertaining to the gothic rocker Marilyn Manson, in an attempt to prove that this person‟s art had influenced Luke Mitchell. It was shown that a few days after Jodi‟s murder, Luke had purchased a music magazine at the local Sainsbury store which contained a free cd and bonus dvd of some of Manson‟s work. The audio cd was called Golden Age of the Grotesque, and the dvd showed images of apparent violence towards two young women. The police had investigated the "Manson connection," one officer accessing a website which showed paintings by Manson depicting the "Black Dahlia" murder of Elizabeth Short in the 1950s. The prosecution claimed that there were startling similarities between the injuries inflicted on Elizabeth Short, and those on Jodi Jones. Under cross examination, those "startling similarities" were reduced to "some similarities," and "superficial similarities" but even that is irrelevant – Luke Mitchell was proven to have come into contact with Marilyn Manson "influences" (which did not contain any images of the Black Dahlia paintings) after Jodi‟s death. There was never any evidence whatsoever that he had come into contact with the Black Dahlia images at any time – the police officer who found the images admitted that it was highly unlikely that anyone who had not visited the website would have seen those images. There were no connections to that website on the computer taken from the Mitchell home.

Still, the prosecution repeated its contention that Luke had "copied" the Black Dahlia murder because, in part, he was so heavily influenced by Manson. Even the Judge, after the jury returned their verdict, would show his complete lack of understanding on this point – i.e., that something which happens after an event cannot possibly have influenced that event.

To be continued...


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Amma_Schneider

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LUKE MITCHELL: PART 2

 

Although it was clear that Luke indulged in cannabis, the same was true of Jodi – the prosecution tried to imply that Luke had somehow corrupted her, even though he received his cannabis from Jodi‟s cousin! Indeed, several school-friend witnesses were also shown to indulge in cannabis, as was Jodi‟s brother, Joseph, who was also supplied by cousin John Ferris. Amidst this particular group, cannabis was hardly an indicator of anything odd or peculiar, yet the claims that it was cannabis which fuelled the „frenzied‟ attack on Jodi were repeatedly reported. Unfortunately, no expert witnesses on the effects of cannabis, or its likelihood of fuelling such an attack were called, either by the prosecution or the defence; however, there is a general understanding that the effects of cannabis are quite the opposite to those claimed by the prosecution.

Another complete red herring was the finding of bottles of urine found in Luke‟s bedroom. Just what, exactly, these had to do with Luke‟s likelihood of having been Jodi‟s murderer is still unclear, yet the finding of these bottles was given great significance by both the prosecution and the press, in a blatant attempt to encourage suspicion and revulsion towards Luke Mitchell. The perfectly innocent explanation – that the trauma of events had triggered a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), compelling him to "hold on" to literally everything, never made it to the public domain.

Similarly, proof that Luke had other girlfriends was not only used to blacken his character, it would later be used by the detective in charge of the case to provide a motive for Luke murdering Jodi, even though all of the evidence actually proved that this officer‟s explanation simply could not be the case. Unfortunately, this motive theory was not presented to the jury – it was offered to the press after the trial. However, it does beg the question, if teenage boys two-timing their girlfriends is an indicator of their likelihood to commit murder, then surely none of us can sleep safe in our beds!

In another attempt to show the Mitchell family as unreliable, the prosecution called witnesses who had not, previously, been made known to the defence team. Staff from a tattoo parlour were called to show that Corrine Mitchell had "lied" for her son, by providing him with fake id, so that he could have a tattoo. The fake id was not produced in court – only the word of the staff that it had been produced was available. It was, they claimed, a birth certificate, and Corrine Mitchell had claimed her son was the person named on that certificate. With prior warning, the defence

would have been able to prove that either (a) Corrine Mitchell produced no such document, or (b) the staff at the tattoo parlour had broken the law by tattooing someone with an obviously fake id - the person they named on the birth certificate which Corrine Mitchell is supposed to have provided is a 58 year old man!

In summary of the trial and evidence presented so far, therefore, there were several pieces of "evidence" led which should not have been allowed to be led, on various grounds – the eyewitness testimony of Andrina Bryson, who failed to identify Luke Mitchell in court, was flawed from the start – the mug shots highlighting Luke as the only one of 12 with long hair, pictured against the only light background, shown to her by police, were, the judge agreed, misleading. In what the defence called a deliberate tactical decision to treat Luke Mitchell unfairly, no identity parade was held. Andrina Bryson also admitted making a statement some weeks later that she recognised Luke from his picture in the newspaper, even though the judge had expressly instructed jurors that they should "put out of their minds anything they had seen, heard or read outside of the court proceedings."

All that was ever proven with regard to the parka jacket was that Luke owned one after Jodi‟s death. There was no evidence whatsoever that he had owned one prior to the murder of Jodi, nor that clothing of any description had been burned in the garden. Much confusion was encouraged between reports of both Luke and his mother denying the existence of the parka jacket, and pictures of him wearing such a jacket – the deliberate omission of the fact that they claimed he did not own the jacket prior to Jodi‟s death making it appear self evident that they were lying. Further, the prosecution repeatedly referred to the "missing" jacket, although there had never been a single shred of evidence to suggest that there had been any "missing" jacket.

The tattoo evidence, led to prove the dishonesty of Corrine Mitchell, was not revealed to the defence prior to being led in court. Further, this evidence raised serious questions as to the honesty of the people testifying – they had no corroborating evidence (such as the birth certificate and photographic id they claimed to have been shown), and the name they claimed to have been given was that of a 58 year old man.

All of the Marilyn Manson evidence should not have been allowed on the grounds that it proved nothing – the cd and dvd were purchased after Jodi died, and the Black Dahlia connection had nothing to support it whatsoever.

The urine bottles found in Luke‟s bedroom were in no way connected with the case – they could not be used to prove anything related to the crime.

But what is most interesting is the weight given to uncorroborated testimony from Jodi‟s family members.

According to Alan Turnbull QC, there were three things that proved that Luke was the killer:

The "identification" of him at the Easthouses end of the path with Jodi at around 5pm.

The "fact" that Shane said Luke was not at home between 5pm and 5.45pm.

The testimony of the other three members of the search party.

These three things were "central" to the prosecution‟s case, he claimed. Yet Andrina Bryson‟s identification was nothing of the sort, as has already been shown.

Shane did not claim that Luke "had not been at home between 5pm and 5.45pm." He said that he did not know if Luke had been at home, and that he had thought he (Shane) was alone "in the house," a subtle, but very important difference.

Finally, the testimony of the other members of the search party, and the evidence of Jodi‟s family in general, raises many more questions than it answered.

Firstly, the timing of Jodi leaving her mother‟s home on the evening of June 30th: Judy Jones claimed that Jodi had been grounded, and that she had decided that evening to end the punishment. Texts were exchanged between Judy‟s phone (Jodi‟s phone was broken) and Luke‟s between 4.34 and 4.38pm – this obviously being the time Judy told Jodi her punishment had been lifted. The description of what occurred between then and the claimed time of Jodi leaving is very detailed, involving cooking lasagna and playing a Rod Stewart track. These events left Jodi less than 7 minutes to "go upstairs and get ready to meet Mitchell," then come back downstairs, give her mother a kiss and leave. Texts on both Judy‟s and Luke‟s phones had been erased, so there is nothing to prove what was said in those texts. However, if this was the first point at which Luke became aware that he would be seeing Jodi that night (since she was still "grounded") an important issue arises. There are only 11 – 16 minutes between those texts being exchanged, and the "sighting" by Andrina Bryson at the Easthouses end of the path. It is not possible for Luke to have made the journey, on foot, from his home to the Easthouses end of the path in that time. Yet, what reason would he have, prior to that time, to be anywhere

near the path? He believed he was not meeting Jodi because she had been grounded.

Alan Ovens, Judy Jones‟ partner, took a call, on the home phone, from Luke at 5.40pm, apparently asking where Jodi was. He said he told Luke Jodi had already left to meet him. A great deal of emphasis was put on the fact that Luke did not call back later, when Jodi failed to show up. But by 5.40pm, Jodi had been gone from her home for 50 minutes. She was expected to have met Luke at the Easthouses end of the path within "a couple of minutes" of leaving her house, yet Luke‟s call did not raise alarm with either Mr Ovens, or Mrs Jones? It was portrayed in court that 14 year old Luke had somehow failed in his responsibility to his girlfriend, by not calling back when Jodi failed to show, the implication being that he was covering up what he had done by trying to appear normal. Yet basic logic suggests that the last thing he would do at that time, had he been the killer, would be to alert her parents to the fact that she was not where she should be. What if they had launched an immediate search following his 5.40pm call? Jodi‟s body would have been found much more quickly – surely the murderer would want to buy as much time as possible? If, as the prosecution claims, Jodi died at around 5.15pm, and the murderer needed time to strip her after death, and mutilate her body in a calm, deliberate fashion, then the timing of this call suggests that he was calling almost immediately after carrying out these actions. Yet nothing in his voice or manner raised even the slightest alarm in Mr Ovens. It would later be shown from telephone records that Luke had actually tried to phone Jodi‟s home 8 minutes earlier, at 5.32pm, just 17 minutes after the claimed time of death, but had been unable to connect. This makes the timescale even less believable.

Given that there were no positive sightings of Jodi that evening, there is no proof of what time she left the house. When police later claimed that they were interested in Luke because he had been "the last person to see her alive, and the first to find her dead," they appear to have missed this critical factor! In an interesting display of double standards, the police accept, without corroboration, the word of one mother, but not another! Similarly, there is nothing to prove that Mr Ovens told Luke that Jodi had "left to meet him," except Mr Ovens own contention that this is so. Had he said, "Jodi‟s gone out," or "Jodi‟s not here," the whole insinuation surrounding the reasons for Luke not calling back collapses.

When it emerged that DNA belonging to Stephen Kelly had been found on Jodi‟s t shirt and underwear, the explanation given was that Jodi had been wearing her sister Janine‟s T-shirt. Yet we have only Stephen Kelly (who is implicated by the presence of his DNA) and Janine (his fiancé)‟s word that this was, in fact, the case. The significance of the fact that none of the other members of the search party‟s clothes were taken for forensic testing that night becomes immediately apparent – no-one can ever know what evidence such testing may have yielded.

Similarly, the elimination of John Ferris and Gordon Dickie from the enquiry before forensic testing had been completed, the failure to test the bike or their clothing, and the fact that Ferris had dramatically changed his appearance and stalled for five days before contacting police leaves a raft of possible evidence that could never be recovered. In fact, these two were supposed to go to Jodi‟s house that evening, to smoke cannabis with her brother Joseph. They did not go, and could not explain why, nor could John Ferris or Judy Jones explain, by the time of the court case, why John Ferris had been ostracised by the Jones family.

But the central, critical evidence is that of the members of the search party. All three of Jodi‟s family members, by the time the case came to court, some 17 months after the event, told exactly the same story; one which differed in fundamental respects from that told by Luke Mitchell. Janine Jones, Stephen Kelly and Alice Walker all reported that the dog had not alerted Luke, but that Luke had gone straight to the V in the wall, climbed through, and immediately knew to turn left, rather than going straight ahead or turning right. All three claimed that he remained calm and emotionless throughout.

Careful examination of these statements, however, reveals that crucial aspects of them cannot possibly be true.

Luke‟s version of events is that the search party had passed the V in the wall when his dog began pawing at the wall and sniffing the air. He went back to the V, because it was slightly easier to get over the wall at that point, then made his way to where the dog had reacted on the other side of the wall (i.e. he turned left.) Both Janine and Stephen said that they were "shouted back" by Luke. But back from where, exactly? By their own contention, Luke had gone straight to the V. This being "shouted back" suggests that, after Luke had gone over the wall, they had carried on down the path. If that is the case, then they were not at the V to see what Luke did when he got to the other side of the wall. Or, Luke was telling the truth , and they had

all gone past the V before he and Mrs Walker had gone back, hence Janine and Stephen having to be "shouted back." Moreover, even if they had been at the V itself, the lowest point of the V is around 6 feet high. The wall is stone built, around 12‟‟ thick, and has no other breaks – it would not have been possible for them to have "seen" what Luke was doing. A reconstruction of the wall and the V shaped gap was built for the trial. Stephen Kelly was unable to state where the various members of the search party were at the crucial times. Janine Jones said she ran back to the V and saw Luke standing at the other side. Ms Jones is quite short – around 5‟3‟‟ – unless she had climbed onto the top of the wall (and it was never suggested that this happened), it would have been physically impossible for her to see anyone standing on the other side of the wall. Prompted by Alan Turnbull as to whether Luke was shaking, or what the expression on his face was like, she provided the expected negative responses, yet these were things she could not had have seen. She was also the only member of the search party not to have gone over the wall, so she is the one least likely to have noted Luke‟s behaviour.

From the accounts of all three family members, Luke stayed at the other side of the wall whilst Stephen Kelly went over, then returned to the path, then Alice Walker went over the wall. At the point where Stephen has returned to the path, and Alice Walker has been helped over the wall and started screaming, Janine claimed that Luke "looked fine." At the same time, she claimed that she, herself, had also started screaming. Cross examined by Donald Findlay, quoting from a statement given to police by Janine a month after the murder, it was put to her that she had told police that when they had been "shouted back" by Luke, her "heart sank" because it was clear from the "concern in his voice" that he had found "something bad." She had also stated that "everyone was in hysterics."

Alice Walker, Jodi‟s grandmother, who was reported as shaking, screaming, and "a mess" following the discovery of the body, made the same claims as the others regarding Luke‟s reaction. Yet, just after the murder, when police had called "some days later" to collect the clothing they should have collected on the night the body was found, Mrs Walker could not remember what she had been wearing.

(The police operator who took Luke‟s call asking police to come quickly noted, "The laddie‟s in a right state.")

The prosecution case rested almost entirely on the evidence given by these three people. The prosecution claimed that only the killer would have been able to find her

body in woodland, in the dark, with such ease. There was, they claimed, no other explanation as to how he knew to turn left after climbing through the V in the wall. Yet there were, clearly, other equally reasonable explanations – that he had turned to where the dog had reacted, or, alternatively, that the others had continued down the path, he was a 14 year old boy, alone on the other side of the wall in woodland, so he was likely to travel in the same direction as the others for safety and security.

The testimonies given by these three people, which were so crucial to the prosecution‟s claims, are dangerously flawed, in that what was claimed to have been "seen" could not possibly have been seen.

Repeated references to being "shouted back" or "running back" to the V are not adequately explained. If, as the prosecution claimed, Luke did not pass the V, but went straight to it, how did Janine and Stephen get to be so much further down the path as to have to be "shouted back." If they were that much further down the path, how can they have seen what they claimed to have seen at the V, since they were clearly not there.

Finally, there is the problem of "time of death" – no official time of death appears to have been recorded – all of the reports state that Jodi‟s death is "presumed" to have occurred between 5pm and 5.45pm –the only point in the evening that Luke does not have an alibi other than the word of his own family.

The Media

From the outset, this was a high profile media case. Initially, newspapers and tv reports carried images of a very young Jodi, aged ten or eleven. By the end of the first week, the link with the satanic, and claims of a ritualistic murder began to emerge. Coverage of Luke Mitchell first being taken for questioning, and his house being searched on July 4th blazed from every paper, and was reported on national television, despite the fact that Luke was just 14 years old, and had not been charged with anything. This would set the tone for the remainder of the press coverage of the case. Everything Luke Mitchell did made the news. He was excluded from returning to school at the beginning of the new term for his own safety, even though he had not been charged with any wrong doing. Newspaper photographs of him being driven away from the school by his mother claimed he was making "obscene hand gestures" to reporters, yet the photograph in question clearly shows him reaching back for his seat belt. Any right he my have had to be presumed

innocent until proven guilty evaporated following two very highly publicised events. Both happened on the day of Jodi‟s funeral. Police told Luke that Jodi‟s family did not want him to attend. In what, retrospectively, was probably a misguided move, he gave an interview to Sky News that day, in an attempt to stem the barrage of negative publicity, and to proclaim his innocence of any involvement in Jodi‟s death. Later that evening, after the funeral was over, and he felt sure all the mourners would have left, he visited the grave and laid some flowers. The headlines the next day could not have been more damaging. Bordering on hysteria, headlines such as "How Could You?" portrayed him as completely uncaring, insensitive, and downright cruel. Completely untrue reports claiming that he had been smoking at the graveside, discarding cigarette butts on the grave ran alongside others insinuating a less than normal relationship between mother and son. That the press must have hung around the graveside for hours in the hope of Luke turning up at some point slips by almost un-noticed. A female friend who also visited the grave was reported as his new girlfriend, the negative implication being obvious. (Interestingly, although she and Luke were the same age, her face was blanked out from photographs, and she was not named). Reports that Mrs Jones had dumped the flowers back on the Mitchell doorstep all fed a growing tide of hatred, prejudice and suspicion.

By the time of the trial, the press had been reporting, for the best part of 14 months, that Luke was the only suspect. During the trial, the majority of the reporting was biased and prejudicial – much of the prosecution evidence was reported in detail, whilst the defence information was kept to an absolute minimum. The insinuation regarding the abnormal relationship between mother and son emerged again with reports that, when police had gone to arrest Luke, he was sharing a bedroom with his mother, although this was completely untrue.

After the verdict, stories were run about other girls who had apparently been threatened and frightened by Luke in the past, yet these were not presented in court.

The Judge and the Chief Investigating Officer.

Questions as to why the judge allowed certain evidence to be presented need to be answered. Holding the trial so close to Luke‟s home meant that the danger of jurors having been influenced by gossip, media, and so forth, was very great. The first trial had to be abandoned because one jury member had expressed her „delight‟ at being selected for the case. The second trial was halted, and when it resumed, the judge

told the jury that "following an incident with one of {their} number" they should be aware that if anyone tried to approach them, they should tell the court!

As has already been shown, Andrina Bryson was allowed to give evidence, even though the identification she had made was discredited.

The tattoo evidence was sprung on the defence, in spite of the requirement for all evidence to be made known to both prosecution and defence, yet the judge allowed this evidence to be led. Indeed, the judge, in his charge to the jury before they retired to consider their verdict stated,

"…the Advocate Depute‟s purpose in leading that evidence was to seek to discredit Mrs Mitchell…"

– knowing that to be the case, surely it becomes even more critical that the rules are seen to be obeyed?

But it is Lord Nimmo Smith‟s comments after the verdict which give rise to the most serious questions.

On 11th February 2005, he said,

"Jodi regarded you with affection and trust, she went out joyfully to meet you"

– yet this is in complete opposition to what Craig Dobbie (the Chief Investigating Officer in the case) claimed to be the very motive for the murder – i.e. that Jodi had found out about another girlfriend and had set out that evening to confront Luke, leading to the fight which culminated in her death.

The judge continued,

"You found evil attractive and you thought that there might be a kind of perverted glamour in doing something wicked,"

but then says,

"Looking back over the evidence, I still cannot fathom what led you to do what you did."

This suggests that the statement regarding finding evil attractive etc, has not been taken from the evidence. On what, then does the judge base his claim?

Regarding the Black Dahlia murder, the judge says,

"I think you carried an image of these paintings in your memory when you killed Jodi,"

yet, having looked back over the evidence, he should have realised that it was not possible for Luke to have carried these images in his memory, because there was no evidence to say that he had ever even seen these images, and what evidence there was of Luke coming into contact with Marilyn Manson material shows that this occurred after Jodi‟s death.

The judge said that nothing in the reports prepared on Luke would have suggested that he was liable to commit such a serious crime, and then goes on to say about cannabis,

"I believe that in some instances, at least, it can seriously damage the mental processes of those who habitually consume drugs"

– it appears now that the judge is questioning the abilities of the experts who prepared the reports which showed "nothing to suggest he was liable to commit such a serious crime." If habitual consumption of drugs had so damaged Luke‟s mental processes, one would have expected the psychology and psychiatry reports to have picked this up.

The judge then makes an outrageous suggestion:

"In your case, I think that it {cannabis} may well have contributed to your being unable to make the distinction between fantasy and reality which is essential for normal moral judgements, and that this, along with other factors I have mentioned, may have meant that when you killed Jodi you were unable to recognise what a truly wicked deed this was."

If the judge truly believed that, then surely he should have deemed Luke Mitchell mentally unfit to stand trial?

In fact, when clarifying the definition of "murder" to the jury, the very same judge states:

"someone who brings about the death of his victim by carrying out an assault with the necessary degree of wicked recklessness…commits murder."

How could Luke have been deemed to have carried out an assault with the "necessary degree of wicked recklessness" and at the same time have been "unable to recognise what a truly wicked deed this was?"

Whatever the judge based these comments on when sentencing Luke Mitchell, it was not the evidence which had been presented in court during the trial, and suggests that the judge, himself, may have been influenced by "other factors."

Craig Dobbie, who led the police investigation, gave a press interview following the verdict on January 23rd 2005. He claims that by July 3rd 2003, his suspicions regarding Luke as the murderer led him to have Luke re-questioned, and his house searched. These suspicions were caused by alleged inconsistencies in Luke‟s statement, given in the early hours of July 1st, immediately after Jodi‟s body had been found. Mr Dobbie claims that the other members of the search party‟s statements were consistent, in both how he had gone over the wall, and in his lack of emotional response. Yet Janine Jones, a month later, was saying that she had known because of the concern in Luke‟s voice that something was wrong. Also, this was prior to the appeal for Ferris and Dickie to come forward, yet, when they did, Mr Dobbie‟s suspicions appear not to be raised by the obvious inconsistencies in the statements given by these two people. It also fails to address the most glaring inconsistency of all – that Janine Jones could not possibly have seen what she claimed to have seen.

Mr Dobbie also claims that Luke came under suspicion because he was the last person to have seen Jodi alive, and the first to have found her dead. Yet there is no evidence, anywhere, which places Luke Mitchell with Jodi Jones that evening. Indeed, what evidence exists proves that the last person to see Jodi alive was her mother.

Although Shane and Corrine Mitchell‟s discussion about their statements raised enough suspicion to have them charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice (although these charges were later dropped, having served the purpose of creating suspicion of wrongdoing, without actually having to prove it), the admitted discussions between Ferris and Dickie, before speaking to the police, raise no such suspicions or charges. Indeed the composite story from these two is used as evidence against Luke in court. It is worth noting that these two people had almost five days to discuss their story – the amendment to Shane‟s statement was made within 48 hours.

Mr Dobbie then offers his theory of motive for why Luke killed Jodi. He claims that Jodi had found out about Luke‟s "other girlfriend" during the day at school, and had set out to challenge him about it that night. An argument had ensued, leading to Luke attacking her. There are several problems with this theory. Firstly, Jodi did not know she would be ungrounded that evening. There is no evidence to suggest that, even at the point that she was ungrounded, Jodi was setting out to challenge Luke

about anything. The girl who had written in her diary "I think I would die if he finished with me" would, presumably, have been devastated to find out he was two-timing her. Yet according to her mother, she was "chuffed" at being allowed out, and left the house perfectly happy. According to the judge, Lord Nimmo Smith, "She went out joyfully to meet {Luke}." The two just do not fit together.

The judge claimed that there had been at least some pre-meditation on Luke‟s part, but Mr Dobbie seems to be suggesting that it was an argument that got out of hand.

Mr Dobbie‟s suspicion of Luke also seems based more on Luke‟s personality than on any evidence. Regarding the questioning of July 4th, Mr Dobbie says,

"..all he did was make me more suspicious. In the interview he was confident and very controlling. He displayed a high level of intelligence,"

and in the questioning of August 14th, he says,

"…He was challenging. He was totally in control of himself and challenged the abilities and authority of the police. It was like taunts. He had the mental ability to sit and take control of the interview, and that‟s incredible from someone who has not previously been part of the criminal process…."

Luke raises suspicion because he is intelligent and unafraid? Confident enough to "challenge the authority and abilities of the police?" Could this not just as easily be evidence of his innocence? Knowing 100% that he has done nothing wrong, he is most likely going to challenge, in the strongest terms, any suggestion to the contrary. Mr Dobbie seems to be suggesting that Luke should have been intimidated by police procedures if he was innocent! Also, Mr Dobbie‟s perception "it was almost like taunts" must surely have influenced the manner in which the interview proceeded. Was this negative opinion a result of Luke‟s responses themselves, or did it arise from Mr Dobbie‟s unshakeable conviction regarding his suspicion of Luke?

Another point which requires examination is that by Craig Dobbie‟s own admission, Luke Mitchell had become a suspect (rather than just a witness) by July 3rd. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act does not apply under Scottish Law, so Luke was classed at this point as a "voluntary attender." The general understanding of this term is that it applies to witnesses, not suspects. Although Luke was informed that he did not have to answer any questions, he was encouraged the whole time to believe that he was no more than a witness. The caution itself is completely misleading – still believing he is a witness, Luke is told that he doesn‟t have to answer any questions, but any information he gives may be recorded and used in

evidence at a later date. This wording is critical – of course it may be used in evidence at a later date – there would be no point in police obtaining information if they did not intend to use it as evidence later. What is not stated is that it may be used as evidence against him. On that occasion (ie, July 4th 2003), Luke was questioned for six hours with no solicitor present. Similarly, no solicitor was present during the questioning of August 14th either – having arrived at the Mitchell home at 7.25am, police took Luke to the station and began questioning him immediately, despite several requests from Luke to speak to either his mother or his solicitor. At just fifteen years old, he was held and questioned for six hours, having been told that he had no right to speak to anyone!

Further, the Mitchell family were assigned a "liaison officer" on July 1st. What they were not told was that this officer was a member of the investigating team, even after Luke had been confirmed a suspect, by Craig Dobbie‟s own admission.

The reasons for Mr Dobbie‟s newspaper interview remain unclear. Having claimed that his force carried out a "first rate investigation," and knowing that the jury had returned a guilty verdict, why did he feel compelled to give an interview explaining why police had been suspicious of Luke from such an early point, and what the "motive" had been?

In an unprecedented move, Alan Turnbull, the prosecuting QC also gave a press interview at the same time, explaining why he was convinced the right person had been prosecuted. Surely the verdict vindicates both of these people, without any need for further explanation?

More than a year after the guilty verdict, as the defence team were preparing to appeal, the existence of unidentified DNA was once again raised. Eventually, documents were released which clarified the situation – in spite of police claims during the initial investigation that there had been no DNA at the scene which had been unaccounted for, it now emerged that there had always been one DNA sample that remained unidentified.

Just prior to this book going to press, further witness statements, pointing to another, far more credible suspect were passed to the defence. The police claimed that these statements had not been followed up because the case was "closed."

So where is the evidence which convicted Luke Mitchell?

He was not convicted on the basis of eyewitness testimony placing him at, or near, the scene of the crime, nor with Jodi at any point during that evening.

He was not convicted in the absence of other suspects.

He was not convicted because of DNA or forensic evidence linking him to the body or the scene of the crime (although there was DNA linking others to the scene)

He was not convicted through association or identification with any weapon.

He was not convicted on forensic proof of any clothing having been destroyed or disposed of by his mother.

He was not convicted on the basis of wounds or marks associated with having been in a fight of any description.

He was not convicted on the basis of what he was seen to do once over the wall, as this testimony cannot, physically, be true.

Evidence concerning restricting Jodi‟s throat until she fell to the ground unconscious, then slashing her repeatedly with a knife shows that this series of events is inconsistent with the evidence.

He was not convicted on the basis of his mother or brother lying either to the police or to the court – neither of these individuals was charged with any such behaviour

He was not convicted on the basis of the Black Dahlia connection, since there was no evidence to even suggest that such a connection existed.

He was not convicted on the basis of a history of similar behaviour or psychological likelihood to offend in this manner.

He was not convicted on the basis that this was a "drug fuelled" attack, since his voluntary blood sample that evening showed this not to be the case.

He was not convicted on plausibility of timescale to have carried out such an attack.

In the case of Luke Mitchell, of the imaginary Twelve Points raised in the introduction, the following apply:

He was convicted on purely circumstantial evidence

Reasonable doubt was glaringly obvious

There was no DNA or forensic evidence linking Luke Mitchell to the scene of the crime, or to the victim

He was not identified at, or near, the scene of the crime, or with the victim at any point that evening

There were other, more credible suspects

There was clear over-reliance on expert testimony to the detriment of Luke Mitchell

There were serious questions about both timescale and physical ability for Luke Mitchell to have been the killer

Character assassination constituted a large part of the prosecution case

There was definite evidence of forensic experts selectively interpreting evidence to the prosecution‟s own ends

Persons with a vested interest in seeing Luke Mitchell convicted gave crucial evidence against him

Luke Mitchell was a child of previous good character, with no psychological conditions or previous convictions.

In this case, therefore, all twelve points are present.

The similarities with the others by this stage hardly need to be highlighted: poor police procedures leading to evidence being contaminated or lost, heavy emphasis on innuendo and speculation, and accusations of behaviours which have never been previously displayed. Like Simon Hall and John Taft, a central aspect to the case involves a piece of clothing claimed to have belonged to the defendant, but that claim is never, at any point, backed up by proof. Also, as with Simon Hall, the lack of a definitive time of death allows a presumption to be presented almost as fact – neither Luke nor Simon had a cast iron alibi at a specific time, therefore the prosecution presumes that to be the time of death. Failure of forensic experts to attend the scene in a timely manner allowed evidence to be lost in both of these cases. Similar to the case of Gordon Park, a series of events is claimed for which no explanation is offered – the "how" is not made clear and, on further examination, appears to be at the very least implausible, if not impossible. Police officers, after the cases have been concluded, make public remarks which appear to demonstrate prejudice in both this case and the case of Derek Christian.

Finally, as with Derek Christian and Simon Hall, we are asked to believe that Luke Mitchell suddenly and inexplicably "flipped," behaving in a manner which is completely uncharacteristic, then almost instantly returns to normal. In fact, in the case of Luke Mitchell, he first loses control completely, then he regains so much control as to become coldly ruthless in his task, and finally, returns to his completely normal self, all within twenty five minutes, and at the ripe old age of fourteen years!

Even before the final two cases are highlighted, it is apparent that something is fundamentally wrong with our judicial system. It cannot possibly be pure coincidence that so many cases throw up so many similar mistakes or discrepancies. Indeed, what appears to be emerging is an alternative system, one which runs by a completely different set of rules to the official system, and one which has somehow managed to become both embedded and hidden within that official system.

The most worrying issues raised by the Luke Mitchell case:

Reasonable doubt is established, but the conviction still stands.

The police investigation is flawed to the point of negligence.

Although a child, in the eyes of the law, Luke Mitchell‟s identity was not protected

He was not advised he had become a suspect, and was questioned without clear caution or a solicitor present.

He was stripped and questioned on the night of the murder without an adult present

Police failed to follow up other leads – in fact, police appeared to dismiss other leads without first checking evidence

The press were fed a constant stream of negative information leading to extremely negative publicity regarding Luke Mitchell

Critical aspects of the prosecution case were allowed to be led as evidence without proof to back them up

The definition of circumstantial evidence as being corroborated by two independent sources was not met on several counts

Discredited, non-legal and unfair evidence was allowed to be led.

The judge drew conclusions from sources which had not been presented in court.

References:

Transcript, Interview, ADS Fulton, DC Steven Quinn, Luke M Mitchell, July 4th 2003

Transcript, Interview, DC George Thomson, DC Russell Tennant, Luke M Mitchell, August 14th 2003

Transcript, Interview, DC George Thomson, DC Russell Tennant, DS David Gordon, Luke M Mitchell, August 14th 2003

Report; Copy Psychiatric Report on Luke Mitchell, October 29th 2004

Transcript: "Charge to the Jury", Lord Nimmo Smith, January 20th & 21st 2005

Transcript: Note of Appeal, August 1st 2005

Transcript; Report by Lord Nimmo Smith, Note of Appeal, February 7th 2006

Transcript: Opinion of the Court, November 14th 2006

Scotland on Sunday, "Mitchell Holiday Plan led to Murder," January 23rd 2005

Daily Record: "My Luke Torment," Feb 14th 2005
 

******


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Reply with quote  #3 
definately makes you think when you read some of the stuff "going round" on the internet such as him not having an adult with him when he was being questioned and the evidence being circumstantial. 

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Reply with quote  #4 
How odd - just after the post about Luke Mitchell is done, he appears in the papers, with yet another story that does him absolutely no favours at all in terms of persuading the skeptical of his innocence...

Killer Luke Mitchell has jail tattoos to mark time inside for murder of Jodi Jones

JODI JONES' killer Luke Mitchell has had DIY prison tattoos inked on his body - to count down the time he has spent behind bars.

Mitchell, who slaughtered Jodi, his 14-year-old girlfriend, in 2003 had tally marks etched on his stomach - and a skull emblem based on Marvel Comics vigilante The Punisher on his arm.

Now, 21, he had already been tattooed illegally before he was convicted of murder in 2005.

And the latest crude markings were put on his body by a fellow inmate using a home-made tattoo gun.

Last night, a source at Shotts Prison in Lanarkshire said: "Most people in here hope Mitchell has time to cover the rest of his body in tatts before he is allowed to walk free.

"Mitchell got the tally marks recently because that is almost six years he has been behind bars in total.

"So he could complete his first set, which has four vertical lines with a fifth drawn diagonally through it."

Mitchell was ordered to serve a minimum of 20 years for murdering Jodi.

The source added: "It's a bit strange that Mitchell is always protesting his innocence to anyone who will listen but then he gets a tattoo of a murdering torturer put on his arm."

Mitchell, from Dalkeith, Midlothian, had been acting as lookout for his crony as he tattooed other inmates, but decided to have a couple done himself.

Prison tattoo guns are made from a motor out of a tape or DVD player, a spoon handle, part of a biro pen and a guitar string.

The ink from a ballpoint pen and a needle from the prison's needle exchange are used to etch the designs on to skin.

In November, the Record revealed the craze for home-made tattoos in Shotts.

The Scottish Prison Service do not comment on individual prisoners.


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Reply with quote  #5 
I TRULY BELIEVE  LUKE WAS TRIED BY THE "MEDIA" NO ADULT PRESENT WHEN HE WAS BEING INTERVIEWED. TOO MANY DISCREPANCIES DURING HIS TRIAL. HE AT LEAST DESERVES A RE-TRIAL.

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Prosecution

Because this case is so complex, the best place to begin is with the claims made by the prosecution:

THE FOLLOWING IS THE PROSECUTION CASE:

(1) Jodi left home at 4.50pm to meet Luke

(2) She met Luke at the Easthouses end of the path between 4.49 and 4.54, based on a sighting by a witness AB

(3) About two thirds of the way down the path (the “path side”) towards the Newbattle end, she went through a V shaped gap in the wall with Luke. On the other side of the wall (the “woodland side”) an argument erupted. Beginning with a physical beating, this progressed to Jodi being strangled until she fell unconscious to the ground, followed by a vicious and brutal knife attack which left Jodi’s throat cut between 12 and 20 times, with numerous defence injuries, and culminated in the stripping naked of Jodi’s body (apart from her socks), tying her hands behind her back with her own trousers,  and a precise and calculated mutilation of her body.

(4) The murderer was Luke:

(a) he had no alibi, and his mother and brother had lied to provide him with one

(b) he had led the search party straight to the body, indicating that he knew where it was

(c) a “Parka jacket” worn by Luke on the night of the murder had “disappeared” – burned, it was claimed, in a log burner in the family garden, then later replaced

(d) he had an unhealthy obsession with the satanic, a goth lifestyle, drugs and the goth rocker Marilyn Manson.

(e) he was completely out of parental control, and over-indulged by his mother (his single parent status clearly having a detrimental effect on his socialisation and sense of right and wrong)

(f) he was fascinated by knives, and knives belonging to him had mysteriously disappeared.

Had the prosecution managed to corroborate any one of these claims, then they may, and it is stressed may have provided the basis for a case against Luke Mitchell.

What is wrong with this case lies in the truthful responses to each of these unsupported prosecution claims. Please now, read the truth behind the prosecution claims, and judge for yourself – is this case proven, beyond reasonable (or indeed, any) doubt?

******

 


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ROBERT STROUD: THE BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ

 

Revenge

In November 1908, 18- year-old Robert Stroud and his 36-year old girlfriend Kitty OBrien packed up their belongings, boarded a boat and left their home in Cordova, Alaska for the state capital of Juneau. The couple had struggled to afford their boat passage and they were anxious to seek better opportunities in the city.

Juneau Alaska, circa 1909
Juneau Alaska, circa 1909
 

Shortly after their arrival in Juneau, the couple rented a room and Kitty fond a job dancing in a cabaret. Robert had less luck finding work in the city but hoped to soon land a job. They both felt sure that eventually their luck would change. However, they didnt realize that it would be for the worse.

Less than two months after their arrival, their dreams of a brighter future turned into a nightmare. According to Thomas E. Gaddis book Birdman of Alcatraz, in the early evening hours of January 18, 1909, Robert set off for the Juneau docks to get fish for his and Kittys dinner. A mutual acquaintance of the couple, F.K. Von Dahmer, also known by his nickname Charlie, stayed behind with Kitty.  In Roberts absence, Charlie took advantage of Kitty and viciously beat her.

Young Robert Stroud mugshot
Young Robert Stroud mugshot

Eventually, Robert returned from the docks long after Charlie had departed. When he learned what had happened to Kitty, he was enraged. Robert went to Charlies home on Gastineau Avenue with a gun and confronted Charlie. A struggle ensued that resulted in Charlie being shot dead. Following the shooting, Robert walked into the office of the Juneau City Marshal where he turned himself in. He was immediately put in jail to await trial for murder.

Unhappy Beginnings

Robert Franklin Stroud was born in Seattle, Washington on January 28, 1890 to Elizabeth and Ben Stroud. He was the couples first child, although Elizabeth had two daughters from a previous marriage. Eventually, the family of five extended into six with the birth of another son named Marcus in 1897.

Elizabeth was a particularly devoted mother who spent a great deal of her time trying to protect the children from their abusive alcoholic father. However, she did not always succeed and the children were frequently beaten and emotionally abandoned by Ben. Robert was greatly affected by his fathers behavior and grew to intensely dislike him.

In 1903, 13-year-old Robert left his unhappy home life and took off on an exploratory trek across America. He had only a third grade education but he was determined to forge his own way in the world. Robert worked at small jobs here and there and could barely afford enough to eat however, he reveled in his independence and his adventurous life on the road.

When Robert was 17 he briefly returned home. His family appeared to have become financially prosperous in his absence, yet the relationship between his parents was poor. The marriage had steadily declined over the years due to his fathers erratic drinking and adulterous behavior. Once again, Robert left home on another adventure, this time in search for work in Alaska. It would be a move that would change his life forever.

During the summer of 1908, the now 18-year-old Robert obtained a job working for a railroad gang in Katalla, Alaska. The job proved to be physically demanding, although it paid well. After a while, the railroad gang was relocated to the thriving town of Cordova. It was there that Robert met and began a relationship with a dance-hall entertainer and prostitute of Irish descent named Kitty OBrien.

Cordova, Alaska circa 1910
Cordova, Alaska circa 1910
    

There are many conflicting reports concerning the relationship between the couple. Some suggest that it was mostly a business liaison and that Robert earned money pimping for Kitty. Others suggest that the two were genuinely in love and had hopes for starting a future together. Regardless, the two spent a great deal of time together and shared a common goal of making the most of their circumstances. Robert set about the task of establishing himself financially and began working at a series of jobs including a popcorn vendor and construction worker.

In August of 1908, Robert ran into an old acquaintance of his and Kittys from Katalla known as F.K. Von Dahmer and nicknamed Charlie. Charlie was a fancily dressed 28-year old bartender of Russian decent with a dubious reputation. He was enroute to his new job at a saloon in Juneau and spoke idealistically of the expanding city.

During the earlier part of the century Juneau was a booming gold town full of vast opportunities and potential. The idea of moving to the capital city appealed to Robert and he convinced Kitty to move there with him. It was a decision that he would regret for the rest of his life. Less than six months later, Charlie lay dead in his cottage and Robert awaited trial for murder.

In the beginning months of 1909, Roberts mother Elizabeth quickly came to her sons aid upon hearing of the murder. She retained a lawyer to defend his case and hoped that Robert would be acquitted on charges of manslaughter. However, all their hopes were quickly dashed during the trial.

Juneau Alaska courthouse, 1909
Juneau Alaska courthouse, 1909
 

A newly appointed judge, E.E. Cushman, presided over the hearing. He was determined to make his mark in the judicial system and decided to make Roberts case an example to those who resorted to violence in his jurisdiction. He used the full strength of the law to punish Robert.

McNeil Penitentiary
McNeil Penitentiary
    

On August 23, 1909, Robert was sentenced to 12 years at McNeil Island Penitentiary. It was the maximum sentence possible within the statutory limit. That fall Robert boarded a boat headed towards the small island west of Seattle in Puget Sound. From the moment he passed through the intimidating prison walls, he became subject to a new code of conduct unknown to the majority of the outside world.

 

Prison Life

Stroud quickly learned the prison rules, realizing that it was essential for his survival. He knew that any disobedience would result in serious injury by the guards, who relentlessly threatened the prisoners with clubs at the slightest hint of a noncompliance. It was a world that Robert grew to hate but one, which he could not escape. Weekly letters from Kitty and his mother were the only source of contact he received from the world outside. During his first couple years in prison he never heard word from his brother or father and only saw his mother on one occasion.

While incarcerated, Robert became increasingly disillusioned with the prospect of ever having a normal life. He grew into a cold and bitter man, full of anger over the bad hand dealt to him by fate. One day, his pent up hostility spilled forth when he got into an argument with another inmate who informed on him for having stolen some food. The dispute resulted in Robert stabbing and wounding the informant for his lack of loyalty towards another prisoner.

As punishment, Robert received an additional six months tacked onto his already existing 12-year sentence. However, most of his time would not be served at McNeil penitentiary. In 1912, Robert along with several dozen other inmates was transferred from the overcrowded prison to a newly constructed maximum-security compound in Kansas, known as Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary.

Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary
Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary
 

During the first few years in the foreboding penitentiary, Robert underwent drastic changes. With the hopes of broadening his education, Robert enrolled in a series of correspondence courses, which included astronomy, structural engineering and physical science. It was through these courses that he realized his passion for knowledge and his burgeoning intelligence.

For someone who had entered the prison with only a third grade education, guards and cellmates alike were surprised to learn that Robert had excelled in all of his courses receiving exceptionally high marks. Yet, his recent scholastic accomplishments were only just the groundwork for what would later lead to more advanced fields of study. 

Robert Stroud in his cell
Robert Stroud in his cell
    

Robert began to evolve not only academically, but spiritually as well. According to Gaddis, he became enthralled with the field of theosophy, a religion that combines various forms of philosophy, science and religion and studied its teachings on a daily basis. Theosophy and its teachings provided Robert with a degree of spiritual release, which allowed him to better accept the surroundings in which he lived. His newfound ideology and interest in learning would later support him during the most difficult years of his life that were to follow.

In 1915, after suffering chronic pain Robert was interred at the penitentiary hospital where he was diagnosed with Brights disease. The diseases signature is inflammation of the kidney, which can result in high blood pressure, fever and facial puffiness. His six-foot three frame grew more gaunt and weakened from pain as his health slowly declined. He feared that the disease would kill him before he had a chance to see his family again.

While Robert was ill, his mother traveled to Kansas to be closer to her son and offer assurances. When she learned the severity of the disease, she wrote a letter to the United States Attorney General pleading for her sons release, yet her request went unanswered. Eventually, Robert began to show signs of recovery but he remained weakened by the debilitating disease.

During his recovery, he spent a majority of his time in his cell. Robert became increasingly detached and bitter because of the pain he suffered due to his illness. He even began to abandon his study courses that he enjoyed so much. Roberts anger and depression about his situation was further compounded by tensions between him and a new menacing guard named Andrew F. Turner.

Turner was a club wielding, cocky guard who taunted many of the prisoners, often evoking in them a combination of rage and fear. Robert was no exception. His intense dislike for the guard would later prove to have deadly consequences.

In 1916, Marcus traveled to Leavenworth to pay a long awaited visit to his older brother, but was refused permission to see him. Enraged, Robert voiced his anger to another cellmate, which was overheard by Turner. Turner promptly wrote a report stating Roberts breach of silence for talking among prisoners was forbidden in the penitentiary. The report led to the retraction of Roberts visiting privileges, which infuriated him even further.

On March 26, 1916 Robert entered the dining hall full of more than one thousand other prisoners. Gaddis states that during the meal, Robert raised his hand for an unknown reason and was soon after approached by Turner. Words were exchanged between the two men, however fellow inmates were unable to hear much of the conversation because of the noisy prison mess hall.

Suddenly, Turner reached for his club to use against Robert. Before he could strike him, Robert grabbed hold of the club and the two men struggled for several seconds. Robert then produced a knife from the inside of his shirt and thrust it into Turners chest. Shock clouded over the guards face before he fell dead to the floor.

Robert was immediately seized by surrounding guards and placed in a solitary confinement cell in the isolation ward. There he remained while awaiting trial for the murder. The prison authorities and their lawyers, headed by U.S. Attorney Fred Robertson worked diligently to build a case against Robert, with the goal of convincing the state of Kansas to re-enforce the abolished execution law.

Facing the Judge

As soon as Elizabeth learned of the murder, she immediately left Juneau for Kansas and on her arrival she hired lawyer General L.C. Boyle to defend her son. Although Boyle had a reputation as one of the best defense attorneys in the state, he knew he had a difficult case ahead of him. After all, Robert did kill Turner in front of over one thousand convicts and several guards.

In May of 1916, attorneys for the defense and prosecution presented their cases to Judge John C. Pollock and a jury of twelve. Both sides produced witnesses that included guards and inmates who testified as eyewitnesses to the murder. After only four days of hearings, Robert was found guilty of first-degree murder. On May 27, Robert was sentenced to execution by hanging to be carried out on July 21 of that same year.

Boyle immediately began the appeals process with the Federal Circuit Court. In December 1916, the entire trial was invalidated on the basis that the members of the jury had not stated whether they wished to impose the full measures of the law. Another trial was set for the following year.

During the time in between trials, Elizabeth worked frantically to enlist the help of anyone who would listen to prevent the death penalty from being handed down a second time. Robert escaped execution on a technicality once before, but she knew he would most likely not be as fortunate a second time. Elizabeths main argument was that state executions had been abolished for several decades and it was unjust to reinstate the inhumane law.

After petitioning various womens organizations and penal reform groups, she found the support she so desperately hoped for. According to Gaddis, the groups vocally expressed their opinions concerning capital punishment and even went as far as to request the jury panel to withhold from issuing the death penalty. The protests lead by Elizabeth enraged Judge Pollock to the point that his objectivity began to falter. Eventually, he was disqualified and Judge J. W. Woodrough replaced him during the second trial, which took place on May 22, 1917.

At the trial, the defense team attempted to prove that Robert was mentally unbalanced and not responsible for the crime he committed. If they were able to show that he was mentally incompetent, there was a chance that they could win an acquittal. Several psychiatrists supported the defenses case stating that Robert was indeed insane and psychopathic.

Another strategy utilized by the defense team was to prove that Robert acted in self defense at the time he killed Turner. They presented eyewitnesses that claimed that Turner threatened the defendant with a club prior to his murder. Eyewitnesses further suggested that Turner had a bad reputation in the prison because he constantly used his club to threaten inmates.    

Conversely, the prosecution team tried to prove that Robert was a cold-blooded killer who was mentally fit enough to have been aware of the consequences of his actions. They enlisted the expert testimony of several psychiatrists who supported the prosecutions stance by diagnosing Robert as sane and mentally competent. Moreover, the prosecution provided key testimony from inmates and guards who further suggested that Robert was an unfeeling and aloof person incapable of remorse for the murder of Turner. 

On May 28, 1917 the jury deliberated and after several hours they returned a verdict of guilty, yet they withheld a sentence of capital punishment. Relieved that her sons life was spared a second time, Elizabeth embraced Robert as others in the courtroom looked on in disbelief. Instead of receiving a sentence of execution this time, Robert was given a life sentence.

Although Robert was pleased that his life was spared, he was less pleased with how the trial was conducted. He believed that the hearing was unfair because the defense was unable to present critical evidence or subpoena witnesses that supported his case. Moreover, the state was able to use evidence against him that was illegally confiscated from him without his permission or a court order. With nothing else to lose, with the exception of his life, he decided to once again challenge the system.

Roberts attorneys immediately appealed the ruling, stating that the defendant was denied his constitutional rights within the trial. Once again, like in the first hearing, the trial was deemed invalid by the U.S. Supreme Court. A new trial was ordered and set for May 1918.

Judge Robert E. Lewis was appointed from Denver, Colorado to preside over the hearing. At the opening of the trial, Roberts attorneys failed to appear, which infuriated Lewis. He quickly appointed new lawyers to handle Roberts case and disqualified his previous lawyers.

Robert was shocked that his lawyers failed to appear. It appeared to him as if they had literally put his case on the backburner. Robert became even more shocked and angered when he learned that without his knowledge, his lawyers negotiated with the prosecution and agreed to have him enter a plea of guilty to second-degree murder.

Robert protested the plea that was decided for him without his consent. Moreover, there was concern that the new lawyers would have little if any time to prepare a case on his behalf in time for the hearing. Realizing that Robert was in an unusual predicament, the judge decided to continue the trial at a later date.

In June 1918, Roberts third trial began. Testimony from the earlier trials was presented along with some new evidence including eyewitnesses to the murder who testified for the defense and evidence from the prison doctor who testified on behalf of the prosecution. After less than a week, both sides presented their closing arguments and the jury began the deliberation process.  

On June 28, 1918 the jury returned its verdict, finding Robert guilty of first-degree murder. The jury further suggested that he be sentenced to execution by hanging. The judge swiftly reacted to the verdict by imposing the death sentence, with the execution to take place in November of that year.

Roberts lawyers immediately appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, who in turn issued a temporary delay of the execution until the case was analyzed. Finally, in November 1919 the Supreme Court reached a decision. They decided to uphold the death sentence imposed on Robert and disallowed any further hearings into the case. The execution was scheduled to take place on April 23, 1920.

In reaction to the judgment, Elizabeth sought the only option available to her that could possibly save her son. As Robert awaited his death in a solitary confinement cell of the isolation ward, Elizabeth began filing a petition for Executive Clemency. Within the document, she spoke of Roberts troubled past and neglect from his father. She also told of the inaccuracies in the trials and how her sons incarceration negatively impacted the family.

To Elizabeths relief, President Woodrow Wilson received the petition and ordered a halt to the execution of her son. Roberts life was saved for a third time. His sentence was altered from death by hanging to life imprisonment. He had literally been saved by his mothers love and the compassion of a president.  

Shortly following the confirmation of his new sentence, Robert Stroud was transferred to the segregation cells of the isolation ward of the prison. He was restricted from associating with other prisoners and was allowed thirty minutes a day exercise within the isolation block courtyard. Many would have viewed the prison term as a death sentence in itself, however over time Robert would consider it to be a new lease on life.

 

Jail Birds

Over the years, while Robert served out his sentence he took advantage of some of the privileges offered to him. He received various art supplies and began learning how to write and paint with the assistance of correspondence teachers. He also began to create greeting cards, on which he displayed his artwork that he gave to his mother to sell. The proceeds from the cards were intended to financially help his aging mother.

However, it was in June 1920 that Robert undertook another hobby that would change the course of his life. Following a severe thunderstorm, Robert stumbled across the remains of a nest full of three live baby sparrows in the exercise yard. The nest had been destroyed when the storms winds snapped a branch of a tree on which it rested.

Robert took the birds back to his cell and cared for them by constructing a makeshift nest and providing them food. It wasnt long before he began to bond with the feathered animals. Robert began to check out every book available on the subject of birds that the prison library offered. He learned how to care for his birds and also how to train them to do tricks. The birds brought Robert great comfort, satisfaction and meaning into his otherwise purposeless life.

Robert also devised an ingenious plan to breed the birds for a profit. He quickly abandoned his greeting card hobby and decided to focus most of his time on breeding the canaries. Before long the birds began to grow in numbers.

The warden was impressed by Roberts enthusiasm with the birds. The inmate seemed to have a new lease on life. Overall, the isolation ward had gone from one of the most dangerous to the most docile, since the introduction of the birds. The warden decided to allow Robert to have some of the equipment necessary to make birdcages, thus facilitating his business adventure and his love for birds.

The warden also conducted tours of the isolation ward, which included Roberts cell. The visitors that passed through were offered a chance to buy one of Roberts canaries, which many agreed to. Before long, Robert had established a lucrative business, of which the proceeds went to his mother new equipment and food for the birds.

Roberts interests were not only financially motivated. He had a genuine love for the animals and was curious to learn as much about them as possible. Over the years, he studied the birds with intense fascination and would note his observations in a notebook. He also began to experiment with various breeding techniques and nutritional diets that aided in the propagation of the species.

Eventually his experiments became more and more advanced. Using makeshift materials and help from the prison laboratories, Robert began to take cultures of bird disease germs and study them. He also studied the anatomy of birds through dissection. His canary population began to steadily increase and by 1927 he had well over 150 birds nesting in his cell. Roberts discoveries made from his canaries would later lead to breakthrough research that would have a significant impact on bird lovers worldwide.

During the spring of 1927, one of Roberts worst fears became a realization. While he tended to his birds, he noticed that some of them appeared sickly. Over the course of several weeks, the sickly birds began to die from a mysterious illness that he believed was a form of a septic fever. The disease began to kill his beloved birds.

Gaddis stated that Robert frantically began experimenting with various solution mixtures containing oxidized salts buffered by effervescing acids in an attempt to develop a cure. In less than two days he came up with a solution that seemed to kill the disease, without serious harm to the birds. Robert conducted experiments on the germ cultures, with the help of the prison lab and observed that there were three forms of the disease that ravaged his birds. It was the first discovery of its kind.

Roberts discoveries and bird cure led to recognition in one of the most prestigious bird magazines of the time known as the Roller Canary Journal, as well as other periodicals. During the late 1920s, Robert gained national recognition for his informative and breakthrough articles. Throughout the years he continued to send all recent information and discoveries he made to journals in an effort to save birds throughout the country.

Robert felt as if he had paid his debt to society, based on his recent accomplishments. He had educated himself and had significantly contributed to the scientific field of ornithology. In 1928, he decided to issue a petition for Executive Clemency in the hopes of being restored back to society. There was so much research with birds he wanted to conduct on the outside, but it would never be. President Calvin Coolidge failed to comply with the prisoners request. Yet, Robert failed to give up.

In 1929, Robert made several more important breakthroughs during his study of birds. According to Gaddis, some of his discoveries included a cure for many bird diseases that were classified in the hemorrhagic septicemia group, a treatment for typhoid-like diseases in canaries and the source of a common canary infection. Roberts scientific endeavors earned him great respect in the scientific community, as well as with bird-breeders and canary owners alike. One owner of prized canaries named Della May Jones was particularly impressed, yet intrigued by the mysterious bird doctor.

Outsmarting the System

Della Jones, a middle-aged widow from Indiana became interested in Robert after reading his many articles written in her favorite journal. One day, she offered up one of her prized canaries to the winner of a contest in the Roller Canary Journal. It happened to be Robert who won the contest and the bird was sent away to him with a letter from Della inquiring about his vast knowledge of birds. Eventually the two began to correspond on a regular basis.

In April 1931, Della paid Robert a visit at the prison. According to the article Robert Stroud: The Birdman (NOT) of Alcatraz together they discussed business plans to sell Strouds Specific bird cures, which Della agreed to fund. Enthusiastic about future business prospects, Della moved to Kansas to put into action the plan the two had devised.

Once the business was established, it didnt take long for the product to become successful and it was purchased by bird owners and breeders across the country. Much of Roberts earnings were handed over to his mother, who was struggling to make ends meet during the Depression.

That same year, Robert and Dellas business came under direct threat by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Robert was ordered to cease all business activity and to get rid of his birds. The shock reverberated through him when he was informed of the disheartening news. He wondered angrily why someone would want to destroy more than a decades worth of hard work that kept him out of trouble and contributed so much to society.

Following the bad news, Robert immediately set about protesting the decision. He began sending letters to radio stations, government officials, bird journals and related organizations. Robert was desperate and frantically tried to contact whoever might be able to help him save his livelihood. Della assisted Robert in getting the letters out of the prison and into the right hands.

Upon hearing of Roberts unfortunate predicament, bird lovers around the world became angry. People began to write letters of protest to congressmen in Kansas and state their displeasure with the decision through national media. Moreover, Della, who was leading the campaign, began to circulate petitions to be mailed to the President of the United States. Eventually she was able to obtain approximately fifty thousand signatures before mailing it off to the executive offices.

Public and governmental pressures came down so hard on the Federal Bureau of Prisons that they denied ever having stated that Robert had to dispose of his birds or business. The battle was won, or so it seemed. Robert was allowed to keep his birds and conduct his business and experiments. However, he was only allowed to keep a minute fraction of the proceeds he made from the business. It was hardly enough to help his mother or pay for the supplies he so desperately needed.

Angered, Robert once again began to protest what he called the socialization of his business by the bureau. He made such an uproar that the bureau decided to negotiate with the prisoner, in the hopes of preventing increased attention from the public and media. Eventually, an agreement was struck and although Robert didnt receive any more money, he did get a new and larger cell and access to all the equipment necessary to conduct his work.

However, exasperated prison officials, who had become wary of Roberts ceaseless petitions, revoked many other privileges that had previously been granted to the entrepreneurial prisoner. Robert was no longer allowed to correspond with a majority of the many bird lovers who wrote to him every week. At most, he was permitted to receive and answer only several letters every week.

Using his spare time efficiently and productively, Robert began to write down everything he had ever learned from his study of birds. He compiled all of the material into a manuscript, which he hoped to publish with the help of the editor-publisher of the Roller Canary Journal.

Diseases of Canaries book
Diseases of Canaries book
 

In 1933, the book Diseases of Canaries was eventually published, however Robert received no royalties from its sales. The very man that offered to help him publish the book cheated Robert out of his share of the proceeds. Gaddis stated that the infuriated Robert bought advertising space in a competitive journal, which he used to inform the public about the unfair treatment he received by the publisher of his manuscript. In retaliation, the publisher complained to prison authorities, who reprimanded Robert by beginning transference procedures that would eventually lead him to a new prison, with a dubious reputation named Alcatraz

When Robert caught wind of the transfer through the prison grapevine, he desperately tried to find a way to get out of his nightmarish predicament. He knew that if he were to be transferred, he would forever lose his birds. He studied law books obtained from the prison library, hoping to find a legal loophole that might save him from being moved. During his search, he found what he believed to be the answer to his current problem. However, it would involve the help of another person to make it possible, Della.

Robert learned from an obscure law that if he were married in the state of Kansas, he would have the right to remain there as a legal inhabitant along with his significant other. Immediately, he contacted Della and informed her of his situation and of the possible legal loophole. Together, the two agreed to secretly marry under federal laws, which required only a sworn contract signed by both parties.

On October 21, 1933, Leavenworth prison officials learned that one of their most problematic prisoners was secretly married, without their consent. The news didnt sit well with the warden who was already irritated with Robert for his gross noncompliance with his system. However, the warden didnt stand alone in his anger. Roberts mother also became angry at her sons marriage.

Since the beginning of her sons incarceration, Elizabeth believed that women only caused Robert trouble. Moreover, Roberts mother was very jealous even though Della had fought vigorously to help Robert. After learning of the marriage, feeling betrayed, Elizabeth severed her relationship with her son. It would remain severed until her death in 1937.

Robert had once again found his way around the system, which allowed him to remain at Leavenworth. However, prison officials continued to make his confinement as unbearable as possible. They viewed him as a troublemaker and a thorn in their side. In 1937, prison officials began to further reduce his privileges, at one point even preventing the inmate from corresponding with Della. In the years that followed, permission was never granted to Robert to resume contact with his wife. It was his punishment for drawing unwarranted attention to the prison and being a nuisance.

Stroud's prison ID
Stroud's prison ID
    

Nevertheless, although he worked in restricted conditions, he continued to conduct research and note his observations. Moreover, he remained in the business of selling canaries and his reputation remained in good stead. Surprisingly, he even received the attention of J. Edgar Hoover who purchased a bird from Robert for his mother.

In 1937, after 29 years behind bars, Robert became eligible for parole. He quickly applied for early release, hoping to reenter society and utilize his vast knowledge in ornithology. To his dismay, he was denied parole.

Over the next two years, Robert delved into his research and writing, having little else to do. His endeavor resulted in him finding yet another bird disease cure. Moreover, he also wrote another comprehensive book on birds, which included illustrations that he drew himself. His brother Marcus assisted him in getting the book Stroud's Digest on the Diseases of Birds published, which was finally released in 1942.

Stroud's Digest on the Diseases of Birds
Stroud's Digest on the Diseases of Birds
 

Doing Time on the Rock

Alcatraz
Alcatraz
   

Since 1861, Alcatraz functioned mostly as a military prison compound until 1934 when civilian criminals from three other penitentiaries across the country were admitted. Most of the criminals sent to the island compound were considered to be hardcore convicts and included such infamous names as George Machine Gun Kelly, Doc Baker, Al Capone and Floyd Hamilton. The prison quickly earned a bad reputation amongst inmates across the country and became known as the hell hole and the rock.

The daily regime at the prison was strict. Most inmates were refused many of the privileges they were previously granted while serving time in the other institutions. According to Michael Esslingers article Alcatraz: Rigid and Unusual Punishment,   some of the prisoners were not allowed to talk, access reading material from the prison library or even visit relatives. Esslinger stated that if any of the rigid codes were violated, inmates were forced to wear a 12-pound ball with ankle chain, subjected to violent beatings, be banished to the hole (an isolation cell) or work at hard-labor jobs. Many went crazy, some committed suicide or attempted escape and others just tried to survive their term.

By the time Robert arrived in December of 1937, he was already aware of Alcatrazs notorious reputation. He had heard about it from other inmates back in Leavenworth. Gaddis stated that although Robert lost the privilege of keeping birds, he was allowed to continue reading his bird journals, correspond with other bird lovers and exercise several hours a week in the prison yard.

Robert was also permitted access to the library, from where he obtained and studied the numerous law books. Using his newfound knowledge of law, he began to petition the Federal Courts for early release. He claimed in writ after writ that his extraordinarily long incarceration was cruel and unusual punishment. However, his petitions were continuously dismissed.

Robert channeled much of his anger with the system towards the writing of a new book that chronicled the history of the federal prison system from a convicts perspective. The book was titled Looking Outward: A History of the U.S. Prison System from Colonial Times to the Formation of the Bureau of Prisons. He hoped that the book would shed light on the disintegration of the penal system over the years. He included in his study discussions on reformative measures that have succeeded and failed, prison conditions and effective and ineffective prison leadership, among other things. The manuscript was his second book concerning prison life, the first being an autobiography entitled Bobbye.

Throughout his writing of the books, Robert became severely ill and suffered chronic pain from his kidney and gall bladder. The pain attacks became so acute at times that he was transferred to the prison hospital so that he could receive medication. However, he refused to allow the pain to stop him from fighting for what he believed to be his right to freedom.

Robert Stroud prison ID
Robert Stroud prison ID
    

Over the years that followed Robert began to file even more petitions directed to the Supreme Court. Yet, his requests continued to be denied. Frustrated at the system and weary of prison life, Robert attempted to take his life by overdosing on pain medication in December 1951. It seemed as if nothing was going according to Roberts plans. He not only failed to secure his long overdo freedom, but also at his own suicide. The following day he awoke with the prison walls still surrounding him.

Birdman of Alcatraz movie poster
Birdman of Alcatraz movie poster

Finally, in 1959 after having served 50 years behind iron bars Robert was transferred to a minimum-security prison hospital in Springfield, Missouri. Although he was given more freedom than he ever experienced in his years in incarceration, he still was not satisfied. He continued to petition the U.S. Supreme Court for his freedom.

On November 21, 1963 Roberts long struggle finally came to an end. According to alcatrazhistory.com, the 73-year old was found dead from natural causes in his prison hospital room. He had served a 54-year sentence before being released by death.

Robert Stroud's head stone
Robert Stroud's head stone
 
******

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Luke Mitchell appeals for sentence cut

Lawyers acting for the notorious killer say his twenty year minimum term is excessive because he was a child when he killed his girlfriend.

28 April 2010 14:48 GM

 

 

One of Scotland's most notorious killers should have his sentence cut because he was a child when he killed his girlfriend, appeal judges have heard.

The Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh was told Luke Mitchell's minimum sentence of 20 years was excessive because he was only 14-years-old when he murdered Jodi Jones. Jodi, who was also 14, was found bound and mutilated on a woodland path near her home in Midlothian in 2003.

Mitchell was 14 when he committed the murder, but 16 when he stood trial and was found guilty of murder. His life sentence, with a minimum term of 20 years, was the longest handed down to a youth in Scotland at the time and lawyers acting on behalf of Mitchell now argue that term should be reduced.

Gordon Jackson QC told the court that the question posed was a straightforward one: "Whether or not it is appropriate to have a 20-year punishment part for an action committed when the person was 14?"

He said: "I maintain the position it is not appropriate to say to someone who committed an offence at 14, a child in law and in reality a child, we will decide now that you will not be released until the 20 years is up. It is not appropriate to do that to a child.

"My question is whether or not as a society we wish to say to a child, for what you did as a child we won't even look at your case again for 20 years. The question is whether a civilised society should give children sentences like that."

Mr Jackson also told the Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Gill, sitting with Lord Hardie and Lady Cosgrove, that there was an argument that minimum terms which must be served under a life sentence before a criminal is eligible for parole should not apply to children.

The defence counsel pointed out that any ultimate decision to free Mitchell, now 21, would be determined by the Parole Board and he might never be released. Mr Jackson also accepted that the sentencing judge had taken age into account when dealing with Mitchell and made it clear that the minimum sentence would have been longer if Mitchell were an adult.

The three appeal judges reserved their decision on Mitchell's sentence appeal and will give a ruling at a later date.

The sentence appeal came after judges rejected a move to appeal against his conviction. Mr Jackson said that appeal would concern additional evidence potentially "pointing towards others who might have been involved in this."

He claimed there was compelling circumstantial evidence against other individuals, part of which revolves around claims that a condom found 50 metres from the murder scene linked another man to the area around the time of the offence.

However, advocate depute Alan Mackay said the Crown did not accept that there was any evidence linking the man whose DNA was found with the condom to the crime scene. He added: "There is DNA linking him to a position approximately 50 metres away from the crime scene."

Jodi Jones' body was discovered beside a path which joined her home in the Easthouses area of Dalkeith with Mitchell's home in the Newbattle district.

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.

After months of suspicion, Mitchell was charged and on upon his conviction, Lord Nimmo Smith said the photos of the girl's injuries were the worst he had seen.

Mitchell, who maintained his innocence, appealed against his conviction but his challenge was rejected by appeal judges in 2008.

 

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Admin says: This article in today's news kind of puts a halt on the theory of Luke's innocence. He appealed in 2008, and that appeal was subsequently rejected, and now his lawyers are seeking a reduction in term for their client who they admit, killed his girlfriend. So he's accepting his conviction now? 
 


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Cons give monster Luke Mitchell abuse for likeness to alleged serial killer Stephen Griffiths

stephen griffiths and luke mitchell

Accused Stephen Grifiths, left, and killer Luke Mitchell

MURDERER Luke Mitchell has been taking pelters - after cons noticed he looked like alleged "crossbow cannibal" Stephen Griffiths.

Eagle-eyed inmates spotted the remarkable similarity between Jodi Jones's murderer and Griffiths after the latter's face was plastered all over the news last week.

And they weren't slow to begin slagging the long-haired murderer, who is serving a minimum of 20 years behind bars for killing his girlfriend. 14-year-old Jodi in 2003.

A prison source said: "It's not just the ponytail that makes them look similar, they actually look really alike.

"In one of the photos of Griffiths which was on the news and in the papers, he is the spitting image of Mitchell. It is uncanny.

"The photo looks like it was taken some time ago but as soon as someone noticed, everyone else joined in and started shouting at him that he looked like Griffiths. They both have a largish forehead and distinctly similar features.

"Everyone else thought it was really funny - apart from Mitchell. He didn't see the funny side. He has been hiding away in his cell.

"There were even a few pics of Griffiths ripped out a paper and left in his cell for him to find. He was raging when he saw them."

Griffiths, 40, has appeared in court in Bradford accused of killing Susan Rushworth, 43, Suzanne Blamires, 36, and Shelley Armitage, 31.

When asked his name in court, the criminology student told JPs: "The Crossbow Cannibal."


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Reply with quote  #10 
HAVE ALWAYS BELIEVED THAT LUKE MITCHELL WAS TRIED BEFORE THE MEDIA

HE AT LEAST DESERVES A RE-TRIAL


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The following excerpt is taken from Luke Mitchell's website, and is in relation to the manner in which the media behaved at the time of Jodi's murder. My own personal belief is that the views expressed in this article are biased. Whether Luke Mitchell was tried by media or not is an ongoing debate, however, it could be said of hundreds of current cases that the defendants were tried by media - almost every high profile case is, therefore I see no reason why Luke Mitchell should be given preferential treatment. Could the real issue be whether it was his age at the time of Jodi's murder that caused the outrage of his trial? I believe that if he had of been over the age of 18 at the time of Jodi's murder, there wouldn't be such an outcry over his conviction.

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Media

                       **** updated May 8th 2010****

There is a great deal to cover concerning the media influence in this case, but the two questions which have arisen over and over again are the infamous Sky interview, and coverage of Luke’s visit to Jodi’s grave on the evening of her funeral, so this is probably the best place to begin this page on “Media and other Considerations”

The Sky Interview

Sky turned up on the afternoon of Jodi’s funeral, asking if they might have Luke’s thoughts on being told to stay away from the funeral, and what he was doing to commemorate the day. They told Luke and his mother  that the interview would not be aired that day, as a matter of respect.

That’s what Corinne meant when she said they had been tricked by Sky – the “interview” was meant to be for another day, another time, after the hysteria had died down.

It may sound incredibly naive now, but at the time, remember it was only 9 weeks since Luke had found Jodi’s body, the family were still in complete shock, they’d never had any dealings with the police or the media, and so they trusted Sky that the interview would be recorded for use at a later time.

Sky then went ahead and broadcast the interview within hours of the funeral coverage.

Visiting the grave

The same applies to visiting the grave. The Mitchells were horrified to be told they had to stay away from the funeral, especially as they were still being told by the police that Luke was not being considered as a suspect (even though, by this time, they had begun to have their doubts about this.)

They had asked several times, in disbelief, “Is Luke a suspect? Do they think he’s involved?” and been told again and again, “No, Luke’s not a suspect. You wouldn’t have a liaison officer if Luke was a suspect. We just have to ask all of these questions – it’s just procedure.” The Mitchell family still believed that the police would see the truth for what it was, and it would all be sorted out. 

So they did as they were asked, and stayed away from the funeral. Later, when they believed all of the mourners would have gone, Luke went to pay his respects, in private, believing there would be no-one there.

But the media had hung around, hoping he would turn up. Their behaviour was disgraceful, clambering over headstones and other graves, screeching into mobile phones “get the cameras back, he’s f***ng here.”

A taxi had been booked to take Luke and family home from the cemetery (Corinne had decided it might be a good idea not to take the easily identifiable family vehicle, just in case the media were watching). After the media swarmed out of the woodwork, a taxi turned into the car park outside the cemetery, and Luke, Corinne and friend went to get into it, assuming it was the booked taxi. The driver was not the booked driver, he was a rubber-necker who had turned in to see what was going on, and so, by mutual agreement, he drove off, and the Mitchell group waited for the pre-booked taxi.

The media ran stories that the taxi driver, on recognising them, had “refused to accept the fare.”

The headlines ran “How could you?” with reference to Luke.

Yet these same reporters ran stories about Judy “dumping” Luke’s flowers on the Mitchell family’s doorstep.

If we follow the reasoning here, having returned home from her daughter’ burial, Judy’s privacy and grieving is interrupted by a vulture media contingent, desperate to keep the story going. She is then transported from her daughter’s memorial occasion back to the graveside to pick up Luke’s flowers, driven from there to Newbattle to be pictured “dumping” the flowers on his doorstep, and then graciously allowed to return to the family’s private remembering of Jodi.


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Bulger killer Jon Venables charged with downloading 57 images of child pornography

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 6:10 PM on 21st June 2010

One of the killers of Jamie Bulger has been charged with downloading and distributing child pornography, it can be revealed for the first time today.

Jon Venables is accused of downloading 57 indecent photographs of youngsters onto his computer between February 2009 and February this year.

The 27-year-old is also charged with distributing seven indecent images of children under 11 to others between February 1 and 23 this year.

 Jon Venables
James Bulger

Charged: Now 27, Jon Venables (left) was on licence from prison for the 1993 murder of Jamie Bulger

He is expected to enter his pleas to two charges through a prison videolink to the Old Bailey on July 23.

The charges could not be reported until today because of an injunction imposed by Mr Justice Bean last month.

Today he lifted the injunction following an application by the Daily Mail and a number of other media organisations.

Gavin Millar QC, for the director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer, said he would read the charges for the record of proceedings.

He said: 'A man known as Jon Venables has been charged with two offences.'

Venables was accused of downloading 57 indecent photographs of children, to which Mr Millar said a list of the photographs was on a schedule before the court.

Venables was also charged with distributing seven indecent images of children. Mr Millar said that the use of particular software meant the images had been exposed to 'acquisition' by other net users searching for such material.

'There is no evidence that anybody did acquire them by that route,' he added.

Venables and Robert Thompson were jailed for life for the 1993 murder of two-year-old James, who was led away from a shopping centre in Liverpool by the then ten-year-olds.

They were jailed for life but released on licence in 2001 and given new identities.
Venables was recalled to prison in February this year, following the new allegations.

When Venables will appear before the court to enter a plea - by videolink or otherwise -  the proceedings are likely to be the subject of unprecedented reporting restrictions to protect his new identity.



Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1288376/Jon-Venables-Jamie-Bulgers-killers-charged-dowloading-child-pornography.html#ixzz0rVcfahcT

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Admin says: No big shocker this one, is it really, given that this individual was once jailed for the brutal torture and murder of a child. One question, why was he ever released??


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Reply with quote  #13 
Luke Mitchell

http://forum.wronglyaccusedperson.org.uk/index.php/topic,3.1065.html
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Reply with quote  #14 
I'm a member of http://www.wronglyaccusedperson.org.uk and Luke Mitchell's case was one of the first that I noticed was supported by this particular website. I've actually taken the time to speak to the guy who runs the website, as he himself has been a victim of miscarriage of justice, and I was interested in his personal reasons for his support of Luke. I'm not entirely convinced that giving his support isn't more of a geographical 'prerequisite' than a wholehearted belief in Luke's innocence, but that's only what I picked up, I could be wrong.

I'm still not entirely convinced about Luke Mitchell though, and until anything new or substantial turns up, personally I believe him to be guilty of the murder of Jodi Jones. Luke's own webite, which was started by his mother, is quite interesting, although it is rather biased and even quite bitter in parts. Maybe it's just me having made  up my mind, I don't know. Luke Mitchell - 'smokewithoutfire' - you decide.

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Reply with quote  #15 

There seems to be a lot going on there Admin a lot of unanswered questions there seems to be a feel of excitement off the site and as you see a lot of member from there on other places it seems to rub off...well thats the feeling I get I get the feeling a lot more know more about that case there seems to be more too it.

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