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Julia James death: PCSO ‘subjected to brutal and fatal attack’ in Kent woods

Written by on 10 May 2022

A young unemployed man has admitted killing a police community support officer who died from “catastrophic” injuries after being beaten with a metal railway jack.

Julia James, 53, was walking her dog Toby in woods near her home in Snowdown, Kent, when she was the victim of “a brutal and fatal” attack, Canterbury Crown Court has heard.

Jurors were told that Callum Wheeler, 22, from Aylesham in Kent, accepts that he killed her but denies murder.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC said: “The evidence suggests that her attacker was waiting in the woods for someone to attack and then ambushed her.

“Julia tried to escape her attacker, but was subjected to a brutal and fatal attack. She sustained catastrophic injuries and died where she fell.”

She said that two months earlier Mrs James had seen a young man fitting Wheeler’s description in the woods where she later died.

Ms Morgan said: “On two occasions, she commented to her husband, Paul James, that she had passed a ‘really weird dude’ on the Ackholt Wood bridle path.”

She said that after his wife’s murder, Mr James helped police compose an e-fit of a suspect and later identified Wheeler.

The court heard that Mrs James was ambushed and killed with a metal railway jack.

Ms Morgan told the jury: “A heavy blunt object was used to murder Julia James, and when we come on to consider her injuries you will understand why it must have been an object of that type that killed her.

“In fact the prosecution alleges, and there may now be no dispute, that the weapon was a large railway jack.”

Ms Morgan added: “That item was found in his bedroom.”

She said part of the evidence against Wheeler was data from Julia’s Apple smartwatch, which tracked her movements on her walk and her last moments.

The trial continues.

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