Jodi killer begins 20-year sentence

The teenage killer of schoolgirl Jodi Jones was tonight beginning a 20-year sentence behind bars.

The teenage killer of schoolgirl Jodi Jones was tonight beginning a 20-year sentence behind bars.

Luke Mitchell, aged 16, was convicted last month of the “truly evil” murder and mutilation of his 14-year-old girlfriend.

And at the High Court in Edinburgh today he was told he will be at least aged 35 before he is allowed to apply for parole.

Lord Nimmo Smith said Mitchell’s heavy cannabis use and obsession with Satanism may have been factors in “one of the worst cases of murder of a single victim to have come before the court in many years”.

Mitchell showed no emotion as he was detained for life, just as he had throughout the 42-day trial.

Defence counsel Donald Findlay QC said his client continued to insist he was innocent and told the court: “Whatever is said about Luke tomorrow and in the days thereafter, so long as that young man maintains to me he did not kill Jodi, the fight to clear his name will go on.”

Jodi, aged 14, was stripped, tied up and savagely stabbed to death in woods near her home in Dalkeith, Midlothian, on June 30 2003.

Her death bore similarities to the gruesome “Black Dahlia” murder of 1940s Hollywood actress Elizabeth Short.

Rock star Marilyn Manson produced paintings depicting the US killing and Lord Nimmo Smith said he believed Mitchell carried the images in his head when he murdered Jodi.

The judge said he believed Mitchell “found evil attractive” and thought there might be a “perverted glamour in doing something wicked”.

He said: “I do not feel able to ignore the fact that there was a degree of resemblance between the injuries inflicted on Jodi and those shown in the Marilyn Manson paintings of Elizabeth Short that we saw.”

On January 21, a jury of eight women and seven men found Mitchell guilty of the murder charge 24 hours after beginning deliberations.

The 15 jurors also convicted Mitchell of supplying cannabis.

Mitchell had consistently pleaded innocence and lodged special defences claiming he was at home, in Newbattle Abbey Crescent, Dalkeith, at the time of the killing, and that his girlfriend was murdered by someone else.

The investigation became the largest Lothian and Borders Police case in the past 20 years, and led to the longest single-accused murder trial in Scots legal history.

Jodi was killed after she kissed her mother and left the family home to meet her boyfriend. She met Mitchell, who was only 14 at the time, on a nearby path where he hit her about her head and body and constricted her breathing, causing her to fall to the ground.

The schoolgirl’s mutilated body was found with her hands behind her back and both wrists bound by the legs of a pair of trousers.

Mitchell slashed her neck up to 20 times, with a force that was enough to cut a hole in the windpipe and sever the jugular vein, main nerve and main artery.

There were three large slashes across her abdomen and her left breast had been partially removed.

Mitchell later assumed the role of concerned boyfriend and took part in a search for Jodi along with her distraught family.

Mitchell, who angered Jodi’s family by giving a TV interview on the day of her funeral to deny the killing, kept a knife pouch with the initials JJ and the demonic numerals “666” carved into it along with the years 1989-2003.

Lord Nimmo Smith said he could not recall one occasion where he detected any sign of emotion in Mitchell.

And he said: “Your lack of emotion may account for the callous charade in which you pretended to help search for Jodi and inflicted on members of her family the pain of the discovery of her body.”

Mitchell’s mother aged Corinne, 45, left court without commenting. Jodi’s mother Judy was also in the courtroom for the sentencing.

Mitchell’s sentence will be backdated to April 14 last year, the day of his arrest.

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