Friday, July 20, 2012
Luke Mitchell makes a new appeal to gain freedom as several senior legal experts help prepare his case for free, justice must be seen to be done
Justice is a cornerstone of any decent society, the right to a fair trial goes way beyond the individual people who are involved in a court case.
The Luke Mitchell case is one case where the case relied entirely on circumstantial evidence.
If you are an outsider just looking at it, you can have legitimate doubts on the fairness on his trial and subsequent verdict of guilt.
Murder is a horrible crime, someone killed Jodi and whoever did that should spend the rest of their life behind bars; child killers represent a special threat to society.
To show the depth and strength of feeling that Luke Mitchell wasn’t treated properly, several legal experts worked behind the scenes on an application to the SCCRC.
The SCCRC is the body that probes potential miscarriages of justice; their remit means they can refer cases back to the Appeal Court if they feel there are grounds that warrant it.
In the case of Luke Mitchell, this is a case that should go back because there are legal points that cause concern over the fairness of Mitchell's trial.
To run through what those concerns are they include:
1/ the way eye-witness evidence was used.
2/ the circumstances of his police interviews when he was aged just 15.
3/ the prosecution's use of "prejudicial evidence", such as his disputed interest in the musician Marilyn Manson and his music.
I watch war movies, but that doesn’t mean I want to invade a country.
The list above is all fair stuff to go on, but the last point should interest everyone, the use of prejudicial evidence which amounts to poisoning the jury, something that the SNP Government has been looking at to extend to other court cases.
Luke Mitchell has always maintained his innocence and people believe him so much that there is a campaign ongoing to clear his name.
Campaigner Sandra Lean, who has spearheaded the SCCRC application, said:
"This is a vital new step in our fight to clear Luke's name. The commission will have the opportunity to review the case in its entirety."
Mrs Lean has led the campaign along with Mitchell's mother, Corinne.
People aren’t giving up.
Interestingly both Mitchell and his mother, who provided his alibi, have passed lie detector tests.
Mrs Lean said:
"The polygraph results are not admissible in court but we have included them in the application so investigators have the full picture.
"We believe the police became fixated upon Luke and had a closed mind about other potential suspects.
"We have found photographic evidence that shows one local man linked to the case after the trial bore a remarkable resemblance to Luke. Pictures of them both from around the time of the murder have been submitted to show the striking similarity, particularly in their hairstyles.
"This could cast doubt on the evidence of eyewitnesses who claim to have seen Luke near the scene at the time of the murder."
Mrs Lean added:
"No DNA from Luke was found on Jodi but there were unidentified samples and one male DNA match from blood on her clothing. This was put down to an innocent transfer of DNA because, it was claimed, she had borrowed a soiled garment from another person.
"There are other potential suspects. We are not saying any of them were responsible for the crime, but we are pointing out our belief that police should have looked further afield than Luke. There are other concerns, including the way the crime scene was managed and the manner of the police questioning of Luke."
If we think back to the Jo Yeates murder, the landlord was singled out not on the basis of evidence against him, but purely on the basis of two points:
1/ He looked weird.
2/ He had a bad haircut.
Once those two fixed points were firmly implanted in the minds of the press, they went after him and the police dropped in behind their convoy.
In the end the landlord was innocent, completely innocent and the evidence against him was purely circumstantial.
In the Shirley McKie case, there was another print found that the scene, it took about 14 years for her fight to be over. In the Mitchell case, we should remember no DNA from Luke Mitchell was found on Jodi’s body but there were unidentified samples and one male DNA match from blood on her clothing.
This is a case that has to go to the Appeal Court, it is not enough that justice is done; it also has to be seen to be done.
Every miscarriage of justice weakens the justice system and society as a whole.
Finally, isn’t it time that First Minister Alex Salmond appointed a Justice Secretary who doesn’t side with the Crown Office?
Maybe if he had in the first place there would be more due diligence on the part of the Prosecutors.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University