This an interesting viewpoint and not one I've considered before. Definitely a possibility but I would've thought her family would have noticed her sneaking a bag out of the house when she left or noticed any items missing from her room afterwards.
Yes that's correct it is underneath her coat in cctv images. The sighting of the hoodie was reported around 4 months after her disappearance so do you believe after leaving the area to disappear leah returned 4 months later to place it to throw off the police investigation (which police had already admitted they had no leads and her disappearance was 'baffling') or was it there the whole time and during their extensive searches they completely missed it? Only to then find out about it 4 months later but by then it's disappeared? Not trying to be confrontational just genuinely curious.
I agree a decent sized overnight bag would probably have been noticed. She had her chance to do that a fortnight earlier, and blew it, for whatever reason. I think she left in the end with only the clothes she was wearing, which is not unusual for people walking out of their lives for good. I'm thinking just of a small package of items, special things, maybe in a little carrier bag: photos, childhood objects, or some such. Nothing that would draw attention. I have a clear sense that that evening sortie was about setting up the conditions for her disappearance the next day. But it might just have been to collect a phone or to finalise arrangements with someone.
Regarding the hoodie, as I understood it - I may have got this wrong - the hoodie was spotted hung on a tree or bush. I interpreted that as one of those situations where someone finds an item of clothing and hangs it up away from the ground in the hope that whoever lost it will find it if they come back. I think she could have left it somewhere in that area, either as a decoy (probably expecting it would be found sooner) or just to dispose of it as it was so recognisable, only for someone else to come across it later and display it prominently. But - again as I understand it - the hoodie was removed again before it could be looked at properly, so we'll never really know, and maybe it was another item of clothing altogether. And I confess I hadn’t realised the time lag was as long as four months, so in all likelihood it wasn’t Leah’s at all.
I don't believe in a million years she would have come back again. People who walk out of their lives like that don't come back.
But equally I think that if you believe X is up to his neck in it, then it would be really bonkers for him to have had some accomplice plant the hoodie as a red herring later. All it would take is for one person to witness it being planted, and a crime he had basically got away with would suddenly come full circle right back to his doorstep.
So, to me, either the hoodie was left by Leah or it was a different hoodie altogether. I'm not very invested in either theory tbh. It was just your mention of red herrings that made me think it could be useful to someone wanting to leave for good to make it look like she'd taken it off and waded into the lake, and let the police waste a week or two dredging the lake while she put some distance between herself and MK.
The more fundamental bit for me is that what happened the day before seems to me to have been part of a plan. Having never turned her geolocation off before, I feel sure she was advised to do that by someone who was aiding her in disappearing, and who perhaps also supplied her with a fresh phone, some onward travel arrangements, and some support when she got to wherever she was headed. That might have been X (I think he at least knew about it) or more likely imo was a more formal organisation.
I'm just speculating, of course, though. JMO/MOO etc.