PCSO Julia James’ final moments reconstructed as murder suspect appears in court

An actress walked Julia James’ loyal dog Toby as detectives reconstructed the tragic PCSO’s suspected final moments before she was murdered last month.

Photos show a woman, dressed in identical clothes to those worn by Ms James the day she died, walking the Jack Russell on a secluded footpath and through bushes close to the scene of the killing.

Toby was found unharmed next to married mum-of-two Ms James’ body on a footpath in Akholt Wood, near her home in Snowdown, just after 4pm on April 27.

The reconstruction was carried out to recreate the route the beloved community support officer took on the day of her killing and to encourage any remaining witnesses to come forward.

It took place on Tuesday as Callum Wheeler – charged with murdering Ms James, 53, made his first appearance in court following his arrest last week.

Ms James – described as a “fiercely loyal” wife, mother and grandmother by her heartbroken family – suffered severe head injuries when she was bludgeoned, police said previously.

Loyal Toby stayed with her body after she was killed and was next to her when her body was discovered, detectives have said.

On Tuesday, the actress wore identical clothes to those Ms James’ was wearing when she was last seen – a light blue waterproof coat, blue jeans and dark boots – as she set off from the hamlet of Snowdown with Toby on a lead.

She headed through a wooded area that opened out onto a wide field – the same route Ms James is believed to have taken in the moments before her killing.

From there she headed down the edge of the farmland, with Aylesham Road to running along to her right.

Toby, who has been looked after by Ms James’ family in recent days, padded his way down the well-trodden path on what was a sunny afternoon in Kent.

After rounding the field, the pair headed away from the road and towards an area of woodland that is now cordoned off with police tape.

Police believe there are people who were in the area on the day of the killing who they want to speak to.

Speaking to reporters, Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards said: “That is her typical daily walk with Toby around the perimeter of that field.

“And finally you will see her concluding her walk around the field and entering the woodland where sadly she was found shortly after four o’clock, two weeks ago today.”

He added: “Today on the two-week anniversary of Julia’s death we will be conducting, with an actress and Julia’s Jack Russell dog Toby, a reconstruction.

“Once again I appeal to anybody who is seeing this footage today who remembers anything at all that could be of assistance to the investigation to help us piece together those last vital pieces.”

Last Wednesday, police issued an image of the PCSO in the clothes she was wearing before she was killed.

The picture shows Ms James walking her Jack Russell, Toby, in a woodland while wearing a light blue waterproof coat, blue jeans and dark Wellington-style brown boots.

Police said it was the same clothing, apart from the gloves, which she wore on the day she died.

Wearing a grey jumper and flanked by two security officers in the dock, Wheeler, 21, spoke hesitantly to confirm his name, date of birth and address as he appeared via videolink at Medway Magistrates’ Court.

He was remanded in custody to appear at Maidstone Crown Court on Thursday.

Wheeler, who is from Aylesham, about a mile from Akholt Wood, was arrested on Friday and charged with murder on Monday.

He was charged after detectives were given more time to question him in connection with the death of the police community support officer.

A number of searches have been taking place in and around Akholt Wood and Snowdown, and at a home in Aylesham.

Speaking after the suspect was charged, Mr Richards said it has been a “hugely challenging” fortnight since the death of Ms James.

He said detectives still want to hear from witnesses and the force continues to keep “all options open”.

Mr Richards said the arrest was a “huge step forward” and there is nothing to suggest more than one person was involved in Ms James’ death.

He told reporters: “As many of you will be aware, yesterday shortly after 10pm detectives … charged a gentleman, Callum Wheeler, a 21-year-old man who lives in Aylesham, with the murder of Julia.

“Today we continue to appeal for witnesses. I am confident that there were people in the area at the time that we want to speak to.”

Mr Richards said police are not “actively” seeking any further suspects in connection with the death of Julia James.

He said: “I am keeping all options open, it’s a huge step forward in the investigation, a breakthrough, that we have arrested somebody.

“I have no information to suggest at this stage that anyone else involved in this offence.

“We are not at this stage looking actively to make any further arrests.”