Jury traces final steps of police community support officer killed while walking dog

A jury has retraced the final steps of a police community support worker who was beaten to death while walking his dog.

Julia James, 53, died of head injuries near Ackholt Wood, near her home in Snowdown in Kent, on April 27 last year.

On Tuesday, jurors in the trial of Callum Wheeler, who is charged with her murder, were taken to Ms James’ former home and along the path where she walked that day with her Jack Russell dog, Toby.

The path started from a gate at the end of his garden, passed through a wooded area and skirted a farmer’s field.

Ms James’ exact last movements were recorded by her smartwatch.

She walked along a rough path at the edge of the field and over a bridle path at the edge of Ackholt Wood to a spot known for an abundance of butterflies, which she and her husband Paul called Butterfly Point .

A court sketch of Callum Wheeler, who agrees to have killed Ms James but denies murder (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Accompanied by prosecutor Alison Morgan QC, defense barrister Oliver Blunt QC, judge Ms Cheema-Grubb, court staff and police, the jury walked along a field full of crops up to this point, where Mrs. James turned and started walking home.

They were shown the point where she then detoured away from a wooded area, the prosecution claims because she had seen Wheeler in the woods and wanted to run away.

A yellow marker showed the point a short distance along a path beside a wheat field where his body was found.

Jurors have already been told that Ms James had seen Wheeler at the same location before and described him to Mr James as ‘a really weird guy’.

Wheeler accepts that he killed her but denies murder and is tried at Canterbury Crown Court.

Jurors were also shown Wheeler’s home address on Sunshine Corner Avenue, as well as a nearby hole in the hedge that leads to Adisham Road, which Wheeler is believed to have passed through on both April 22 and the day of the death of Mrs James.

The group then moved on to Aylesham and District Social Club in Ratling, where the jury saw a camera at the front of the building which recorded Wheeler’s passing at 1.08pm on April 27.

Ms Morgan told them: ‘It shows the defendant carrying a bag containing a metal railway jack.

They then proceeded to a building belonging to a local coach company, with a CCTV camera capturing an image of Julia from a distance as she walked along the bridle path.

Jurors also saw locations near the end of Spinney Lane where Wheeler was captured on a bus dash cam on April 27, and by a game warden called Gavin Tucker who took a video clip and photo of him the day after Mrs. James died.

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday.