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DID YOU MURDER JODI? QC's challenge to her cousin at High Court.

Byline: Jack Mathieson

JODI JONES'S second cousin was yesterday asked if he had murdered the schoolgirl.

John Ferris was quizzed at the trial of her boyfriend Luke Mitchell.

Ferris,18,and a cousin Gordon Dickie had ridden a moped near the spot in Dalkeith, Midlothian, where Jodi's body was found last June.

But Donald Findlay QC, defending Mitchell, said he had 'chopped and changed' the time in his story of the journey.

He had also hacked off his curly hair following media reports describing a mystery man seen following Jodi.

The lawyer also quizzed Ferris on why he waited until five days after the killing before speaking to police.

And he said, on the evening of the killing, Ferris failed to keep an arrangement to meet Jodi's brother Joseph at the house from which she walked to her death.

Mr Findlay challenged Ferris: 'Did you murder Jodi?'He replied:'No.'

Findlay: 'Did Mr Dickie murder Jodi?' Ferris:'No.'

Findlay: 'Did the two of you murder Jodi?' Ferris:'No.'

Ferris told detectives hunting Jodi's killer that he and his cousin headed up the Roan's Dyke path at about 4.30pm.

But other witnesses told police they heard the noisy moped, which did not have a proper silencer, close to one end of the path after 5pm.

Mr Findlay said Ferris and Dickie gave accounts which wrongly put them at Dickie's house 15 minutes before Jodi, 14, is thought to have been killed.

But Ferris denied discussing with Dickie what they would say to the police before they gave statements.

Ferris admitted in court that he had only gone to police five days after Jodi died after a TV news report about attempts to trace two youths on a motorbike left him 'shaking'.

Mr Findlay showed the court a selection of newspaper reports describing a potential suspect with curly hair.

He asked Ferris: 'Why were you so keen to get rid of your curly hair that you cut it yourself, making such a mess of it you had to get it sorted professionally?'

Ferris replied: 'I don't know.'

He also denied his personality had changed in the wake of Jodi's death.

And he told Mr Findlay he had failed to keep his arrangement with Jodi's brother because he was having a drink with his cousin instead.

Ferris, who now lives in Ayrshire, told the court he was no longer welcomed by members of Jodi's family.

Mr Findlay pointed to 16-year-old Mitchell in the dock, claiming he had been 'hounded by the Press' and 'locked up since April'.

He asked Ferris: 'Isn't there something now that you just might like to tell us? This might be your last opportunity to do the decent thing.'

He again asked Ferris if he had murdered Jodi. When the witness denied it, Findlay asked: 'Is that your final word?' Ferris replied softly: 'My final word.'

Earlier, Ferris, whose half-sister is Jodi's cousin, admitted supplying cannabis to Mitchell.

Advocate-depute Alan Turnbull QC, prosecuting, asked Ferris whether he had ever seen Mitchell with a knife.

Ferris said he had seen him with 'different knives' on 'many occasions'.

He was shown a knife and pictures of knives, including two silver ones and a lock knife with a brown handle.

Ferris identified the ones in photographs as being similar to ones he had seen in Mitchell's possession.

Mitchell denies murdering 14--year-old Jodi at an area near Roan's Dyke path in Dalkeith by striking her with a knife or similar instrument.

He has lodged defences of alibi and incrimination to the murder allegation.

Mitchell also denies carrying a knife or knives and supplying cannabis.

The trial, at the High Court in Edinburgh, continues.

CAPTION(S):

QUESTIONS: Donald Findlay
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 24, 2004
Words:616
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