Jodi's 'evil' killer to serve 20 years in jail

Last updated at 16:14 11 February 2005

The teenage killer of schoolgirl Jodi Jones has today been told he must spend a minimum of 20 years behind bars before being considered for release, at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Luke Mitchell, 16, was found guilty by majority verdict last month of what the judge called the "truly evil" murder of his girlfriend.

Jodi, 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.

The judge told Mitchell he faced "detention without limit of time".

In setting out the minimum punishment period of 20 years which the killer must serve before being considered for parole, Lord Nimmo Smith told him this was "one of the worst cases of murder of a single victim to have come before the court in many years".

Lord Nimmo Smith said he could not dismiss Mitchell's fascination with Satanism as "mere adolescent rebellion".

And told him he could not ignore the similarities between the injuries inflicted on Jodi and those in goth rock star Marilyn Manson's paintings of Elizabeth Short.

'You inflicted a horrible death on her'

With hindsight, he said, Mitchell's upbringing may have contributed to committing such a serious crime.

The judge said he took into account the fact that the teenager had no prior criminal conviction and also his youth.

"It is very rare for a person so young to be convicted of such a serious murder," he told Mitchell.

However he went on to say that it was the seriousness of the offence to which he was principally concerned.

He told Mitchell: "Jodi regarded you with affection and trust, she went out joyfully to meet you and she did you no harm. Yet you inflicted a horrible death on her and mutilated her body.

"Looking back over the evidence I still cannot fathom what led you to do what you did. Perhaps you do not even know yourself and Mr Finlay has not been able to cast any light on this."

The judge said Mitchell's heavy cannabis use was another factor, telling the killer: "I do not subscribe to the notion that this is a harmless recreational drug.

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

He said Mitchell's cannabis use may have contributed to him not being able to make the distinction between fantasy and reality which is essential for normal moral judgments.

No emotion

Long-haired Mitchell, wearing a blue shirt, stared straight ahead and showed no emotion, as he had done throughout the 42-day trial.

Mitchell's mother Corinne, 45, also stared straight ahead as the judge gave his decision.

Jodi's mother Judy was also present in the court room for the sentencing.

Defence counsel Donald Findlay QC told the court: "So long as that young man maintains to me he did not kill Jodi the fight to clear his name will go on."

When he was found guilty last month, the judge at the High Court in Edinburgh told Mitchell, who was 14 when he carried out the murder: "It lies beyond any skill of mine to look into the black depths of your mind.

"You have been convicted of a truly evil murder - one of the most appalling crimes that any of us can remember - and you will rightly be regarded as wicked."

The jury of eight women and seven men also convicted Mitchell of supplying cannabis.

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

The judge also told Mitchell that 20 years was the minimum period which he must serve before any question of his release on licence arises.