PCSO Julia James was allegedly murdered while she walked her dog and her body was found in Akholt Wood in Snowdown, Kent – Callum Wheeler pleaded not guilty to her murder
A 21-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to the murder of PCSO Julia James while she walked her dog back in April.
Callum Wheeler, 21, from Aylesham in Kent, denied the charge at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday.
He was accused of the mum-of-two’s murder 13 days after her body was found near Akholt Wood in Snowdown, Kent on April 27.
James had on the day of the attack left her house in the hamlet at around 3pm to take her Jack Russell Toby for a walk after a day working from home.
The grandmother-of-one, who had worked for Kent Police since 2008, was found dead an hour later.
A post-mortem examination revealed she died from significant head injuries.
Her body was discovered by a member of the public at around 4pm.
PCSO James’ death prompted a huge police search, with officers descending on the hamlet of Snowdown to search for clues.
Locals were also quizzed and motorists stopped as Kent Police ramped up the manhunt.
The incident also led to an outpouring of emotion in the local community, with the support officer described as popular by colleagues.
Numerous tributes were also left, including by her family who described her as “fiercely loyal”.
PCSO James’ daughter Bethan Coles has been particularly vocal about the search on Facebook, encouraging people to come forward.
Kent Police said previously that the man they had arrested was a British national.
The arrest came after numerous appeals, including releasing an image of the clothes PCSO James was wearing when she died.
A family tribute published by Kent Police on April 30 reads: “There are no words to adequately describe the void left in our lives by the death of our mum.
“She was so much to so many people; a wife, mother, daughter, nanny, sister and a friend.
“Mum was fiercely loyal, she loved with her whole heart and nothing was too much trouble for the people she cared about.”
They added: “Her loss will be felt by us every moment of every day. She will be so sorely missed.
“As a family we are trying to understand how we will navigate our lives without her, it seems an impossible task.”
Tributes have also been posted on social media, including personal statements by her son Patrick Davis and daughter Bethan Coles.
Colleagues from Kent Police have also penned messages, including one officially released by the force.
And fellow PCSO Kelly Adsia, who visited the scene, said on May 1 PCSO James was a “ray of sunshine”.
“We are just completely in shock and completely numb and can’t compute it at all,” she said of the police family.
Various politicians and officials have also posted messages, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Tweeting about the 7pm vigil, he said: “Tonight we remember PCSO Julia James. My thoughts are with her friends and family.