Judge in Jodi trial sends jury home

21 Jan 2005
The Scotsman

The jury in the Jodi Jones trial was sent home last night after it emerged they were "nowhere near" reaching a verdict.

The eight women and seven men were out for almost five hours before the case was adjourned overnight.

Lord Nimmo Smith sent the jury home - the law no longer requires seclusion in a hotel - under instructions to have a quiet night and to return fresh in the morning.

Luke Mitchell, 16, denies murdering Jodi, 14, his girlfriend, on 30 June, 2003, by striking her repeatedly with a knife in woods at Roanメs Dyke path, a short-cut between their homes in the Newbattle and Easthouses areas of Dalkeith, Midlothian.

Lord Nimmo Smith told jurors they alone were responsible for decisions on what facts had been proved in the case, and which witnesses were to be believed.

"Numerous issues of credibility and reliability arise in this case and it is for you to resolve them," he said.

"You must approach your task calmly and carefully, and not allow yourself to be swayed by any prejudices that might distract you from that task.

"Put out of your minds anything you may have heard or read about this case before or during the trial.

"Put out of your minds any personal feelings you may have as to the crime allegedly committed, or any sympathy you may have for anyone, whether that may be a witness, the accused or anyone else. Do not worry about the possible consequences for the accused if you convict. If that happens, the responsibility is mine. Remember to be guided by the oath you took at the start of the trial, to well and truly try the accused and to give a true verdict according to the evidence."

Lord Nimmo Smith said the Crown had to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt before there could be a guilty verdict, although it did not have to prove a motive for the crime.

An important part of the Crown case was that Mitchell had known Jodiメs body was in the woods, and the judge said: "If the Crown is correct, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the accused killed Jodi because only her killer would know where her body lay."

He reminded the jurors that it was a purely circumstantial case, and that the prosecution had been unable to point to any evidence which might directly link Mitchell with the murder scene, either evidence he left there or evidence of blood or injuries on him.

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