Midlothian killer Luke Mitchell eligible to apply for parole after serving 20 years

Luke Mitchell leaving Edinburgh High Court Friday February 11, 2005
Luke Mitchell leaving Edinburgh High Court Friday February 11, 2005 -Credit:PA

After serving nearly two decades in prison for murdering his girlfriend, Luke Mitchell will be eligible for a parole hearing from Sunday.

Luke, 34, was a teen when he was jailed for life for the murder of Jodi Jones, 14, whose body was found near her home in Dalkeith in 2003. She was discovered with her hands tied behind her back, her throat cut and body slashed.

Mitchell, who was also 14 at the time, was convicted of her killing in January 2005. He was ordered to serve at least 20 years behind bars, according to the Scottish Daily Express.

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The Scottish Daily Mail has now reported that a parole hearing could soon pave the way for his possible release.

A source close to Mitchell said: "For Luke, the Parole Board can set a date any time from April 14 this year – guidelines say this should be 'as soon as possible' after the punishment part ends, but there's no real guidance on how long is 'as soon as possible'."

Mitchell was jailed in February 2005 but the time he spent on remand ahead of his trial, which began in November 2004, is taken into account. He has continued to protest his innocence and his campaign gained momentum after a Channel 5 documentary appeared to contradict the police investigation.

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He was moved to low security Chrisswell House in Greenock Prison in preparation for a move to an open prison but in June 2023 it emerged he had failed two random drugs tests. As a result, plans to allow him out on community visits were shelved and his family said it could delay his parole by three years.

A prison source told the Daily Record : "Mitchell came to Greenock in 2021 but has since been in bother where he's failed drug tests. He has also complained over decisions made about his requests to be allowed to visit his mum in Midlothian. He claims he's only been taking drugs due to the ­treatment he's receiving inside. It’s been explained to him that his community access was withdrawn due to his own actions but he's refusing to engage with that."

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Meanwhile, the family of Ms Jones have strongly refuted any suggestion that Mitchell is "ready" for a return to society. A relative, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals by campaigners, told The Mirror last month: "We will be making a strong representation to the Parole Board should he apply, that Luke Mitchell should not be released from prison until he admits his guilt and shows he is sorry for the hurt and grief he has caused and remorse for murdering Jodi."

Mitchell has lost several appeals against his conviction. His supporters believe he should be exonerated by DNA tests, claiming at least ten samples on Ms Jones's body were never tested. Cannabis use was widely blamed for helping to turn Mitchell into a killer. He claimed to have smoked hundreds of joints a week before the murder.

The Parole Board for Scotland was contacted for comment. The Scottish Prison Service does not comment on individual cases.