Bizarre court behaviour of Julia James's killer whose life 'consisted of nothing'

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Undated handout photo issued by the CPS of a photo taken by gamekeeper Gavin Tucker of Callum Wheeler in a field near Ackholt Wood. Wheeler, 22, is appearing at Canterbury Crown Court where he is accused with the murder of police community support officer Julia James. The 53-year-old PCSO was found dead in Akholt Wood near her home in Snowdown, Kent, on April 27. Issue date: Wednesday May 11, 2022.
Callum Wheeler was pictured carrying the murder weapon a day after he killed PCSO Julia James last April. (PA)

The man who murdered PCSO Julia James was described as an "utter loner" whose life "consisted of absolutely nothing".

On Monday, Callum Wheeler, 22, was found guilty of the murder of James, 53, in woodland near her home in the hamlet of Snowdon, Kent, in April 2021.

Wheeler beat her to death with a railway jack after ambushing her while she was walking her dog.

He had been seen walking around the countryside with the weapon the day before he killed James, and in the days that followed, as hundreds of police officers searched the area for clues.

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Callum Wheeler has been found guilty of the murder of Julia James, pictured. (PA)

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James had spotted Wheeler in the woods a few months before her death, and pointed him out to her husband, Paul, calling Wheeler a "really weird dude".

The moment of his attack was recorded on her Apple Watch, Canterbury Crown Court heard.

Wheeler will be sentenced at a later date.

At his trial, police painted a picture of a "complete and utter loner" who was so isolated he barely knew his own brother.

During the proceedings he exhibited strange behaviour in court, unbuttoning his shirt to touch his chest and staring at the victim's family.

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Callum Wheeler exhibited bizarre behaviour in court during his trial. (PA)

He could often be seen scanning the courtroom from behind the glass-fronted dock, hunched forward in his seat.

Wheeler would focus on the faces of those in the press bench, up in the packed public gallery and towards James's family - sat just metres to his left.

On the first day of the trial, Wheeler was seen to feign a soft right-handed slap before the jury entered court, causing one of the dock officers next to him to flinch.

Watch: 'Loner' who prowled woodland guilty of Julia James murder

Read more: Husband ‘still extremely heartbroken’ by Julia James's death

And on another occasion, he was seen unbuttoning his shirt and touching his chest.

Wheeler, who wasn’t handcuffed throughout the proceedings, could often be seen fidgeting with his hands and on one occasion talking inaudibly to dock officials.

His mutterings prompted the judge to order him to be silent while the prosecution’s case was being laid out.

But towards the trial's conclusion, his behaviour changed. On day five, his body appeared limp, with officials having to carry him to the dock.

Once seated, he assumed the familiar position - crouched forward with head bowed - but could be seen visibly shaking and had to be carried out of court, with the case adjourned for the day.

Handout CCTV still dated 28/04/21 issued by Kent Police of Callum Wheeler walking on Roger's Closse, Aylesham, Kent, as he is appearing at Canterbury Crown Court where he is accused with the murder of police community support officer Julia James. The 53-year-old PCSO was found dead in Akholt Wood near her home in Snowdown, Kent, on April 27. Issue date: Wednesday May 11, 2022.
CCTV footage of Callum Wheeler carrying the weapon he used to murder Julia James. (PA)

Wheeler lived at Sunshine Corner Avenue in the village of Aylesham, next to Snowdown, with his father and his brother.

The court heard he had no job, friends or interests of note.

Wheeler moved to the village two years before he murdered James from southeast London, where he had lived with his mother. He spent his days watching television in his bedroom.

He would watch football matches at the local sports centre most Tuesday evenings, and also enjoyed playing computer games.

Detective Superintendent Gavin Moss, Kent Police senior investigating officer, said: "During an investigation such as this, we delve into that person's history, and I have to say, very, very unusually, very little could be found about Callum Wheeler.

Police and forensic officers at an address in Aylesham, Kent following the arrest of man in his 20s in connection with the murder of PCSO Julia James. Ms James, a popular community support officer, was found dead in Akholt Wood near her home in Snowdown, Kent, on April 27. Picture date: Saturday May 8, 2021.
Callum Wheeler lived with his father and his brother at Sunshine Corner Avenue in Aylesham, Kent. (PA)

"He, for instance, never used social media. He was an individual who didn't have any friends.

"His phone was surprising because it contained basically nothing. He hardly had any contacts, and in life he was an absolute loner.

"He wasn't studying or working. This was somebody who had a life that consisted of absolutely nothing.

"His relationship with his brother - they didn't even know each other, really. He didn't know what occupation his brother had. Not a great deal came from the family."

Undated handout photo issued by Kent Police of Callum Wheeler, 22, who is appearing at Canterbury Crown Court where he is accused with the murder of police community support officer Julia James. The 53-year-old PCSO was found dead in Akholt Wood near her home in Snowdown, Kent, on April 27. Issue date: Wednesday May 11, 2022.
Callum Wheeler will be sentenced at a later date for the murder of Julia James. (PA)

When he was arrested, Wheeler gave a no-comment interview to police, only saying he denied the murder.

But the prosecution said that while in custody he told staff that James "deserved to die" and talked of "raping and killing" other women in the woods if he was released.

He also tried to pull down his trousers to masturbate while in a cell, prosecutors said.

The court heard he visited pornographic websites in the days before and after the murder and looked up rape, as well as carrying out searches on Google and Facebook of James and her killing.

The prosecution described Wheeler as a "highly sexualised" individual, saying that rape was "plainly" on his mind at the time of the killing.

Watch: Man, 22, found guilty of murdering PCSO Julia James

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