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Julia James: Police considering ‘all possible motives’ in murder of PCSO as public warned to be ‘vigilant’

Written by on 30 April 2021

Police investigating the murder of an off-duty community support officer in Kent woodland have urged residents to be “cautious and aware”.

Julia James was walking her dog in in Akholt Wood earlier this week when she was found dead with “significant head injuries”.

At a news conference close to the scene on Friday, Kent Police Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards said that while hundreds of officers were working on the investigation into her death there were currently no “clear suspects and no known motive”.

He said the public should be “cautious and aware” and added: “I do understand local residents are concerned – that is completely natural.

“But, I do not at this stage have an identified suspect and do not know what the motive is for this attack.”

Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards. Leading inquiry into death of PCSO Julia James in Kent Image: Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards

However, Mr Richards stressed that while it was an “awful incident” it was also “incredibly rare”.

He said: “Of course it’s natural that people will be concerned.

“People should be aware but should continue with their lives.”

A large group of forensics officers are at the scene Image: Dozens of forensics officers are working on the investigation

He said officers were not suggesting women – or anyone else – should stay at home, but they should be “cautious, vigilant and aware of their surroundings and report anything of concern”.

He paid tribute to Ms James, who had been working as a PCSO with Kent Police since 2008, latterly specialising in domestic abuse investigations.

He said: “She was a hugely devoted, passionate individual who was completely committed to serving the people of Kent – she will be missed.”

He said specialist officers had been working with Ms James’ family who had found her death “incredibly difficult and challenging,” as had her colleagues.

“I have had to consider the welfare of staff as it is particularly challenging for those working on the case who knew her professionally or socially,” Mr Richards said.

“We are working very carefully to make sure the teams are fully supported in terms of the psychological impact of the circumstances.”

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Hunt for killer of PCSO Julia James

The assistant chief constable added he was “not able to say either way” if the attack was sexually motivated, and that officers were “keeping unblinkered and very open minds about the motive”.

He added she had died from significant injuries, following “blunt trauma to the head” but would not comment on any potential murder weapon.

The death was originally viewed as “suspicious” but Kent Police has since confirmed it is being treated as murder.

Ms James’s dog was found unharmed at the scene. She had been working from home that day and was not in uniform when out walking.

Mary Bossen, Ms James’s cousin, told Sky News the family was “devastated”.

Flowers have been left for Ms James in nearby Aylesham.

Anyone with information about the incident is urged to contact Kent Police or Crimestoppers.