Man, 21, pleads not guilty to murdering police support officer

·1-min read

A 21-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to murdering a police community support officer who was killed while out walking her dog.

Julia James, 53, was found dead with head injuries in Akholt Wood, close to her home in Snowdown, Kent, in April with her Jack Russell dog Toby by her side.

Her death led to an outpouring of grief in the community she served for many years.

Appearing at Maidstone Crown Court by videolink, Callum Wheeler, from Aylesham, denied murdering Ms James.

The court heard that his trial – previously set for November 29 – will be delayed and a new date set as soon as possible.

Wheeler was remanded in custody ahead of a further hearing next month.

The discovery of Ms James’s body on April 27 sparked a huge murder investigation, with dozens of police officers from all over the country drafted in to comb fields and woodland.

Her dog was later used as part of a police reconstruction as detectives appealed for witnesses.

Ms James’s family praised her as “fiercely loyal” and someone who “loved with her whole heart”.

In a tribute released by police, they said: “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.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting