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PCSO Julia James ‘brutally attacked’ while walking her dog, jury told

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police community support officer was ambushed and subjected to a “brutal” attack while out walking her dogs in the Kent countryside, a court was told.

Julia James, 53, was found dead after she had gone out with her Jack Russell near Ackholt Wood on April 27 last year.

Callum Wheeler, 22, on Monday accepted killing Mrs James but denied her murder.

Jurors at Canterbury Crown Court were told that Wheeler had been “waiting in the woods for someone to attack” before spotting Mrs James.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC told them: “Julia tried to escape her attacker but she was subjected to a brutal and fatal attack.

“She suffered catastrophic injuries and died where she fell.”

The court was told that Mrs James was killed with a metal railway jack which was later found in the defendant’s home.

Ms Morgan said it is the prosecution’s case “that there is a large body of evidence from a variety of sources that demonstrate that the attacker was this defendant Callum Wheeler”.

She told the court: “Although he denied responsibility for the killing for some time, he does now accept that he was the person that killed Julia James, however he does not accept that he is guilty of the offence of murder.”

The jury was told that Wheeler frequently visited the woodland where Mrs James would walk her dog.

Ms James was said to have seen her killer in the months prior to the incident and had described the suspect to her husband as a “really weird dude”.

Jurors were then played footage from police body-worn video of an encounter between officers and Wheeler when he dialled 999 on April 17, 10 days before Mrs James died.

The footage showed Wheeler telling the officers “get lost mate” and “I’m not talking to you”, before his father reassured them he was OK.

Ms Morgan said: “You may think that the footage of this visit shows the defendant to be behaving oddly” and told the court that he had been reluctant to have “any meaningful conversation with the police”.

The trial continues.

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