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Man "accepts" responsibility for killing PCSO but denies murder

As his trial opened today, 22-year-old Callum Wheeler accepted killing Kent PCSO Julia James.

On April 27 last year, 53-year-old PCSO Julia James was killed as she was walking her dog close to her home address in Ackholt Wood, Kent.

Ms James had joined Kent police in 2008. 

A jury at Canterbury Crown Court were today told that she had been chased before she was hit over the head with a rail jack. Data from her smart watch showed that her heart rate jumped from 97 to 145 within seconds at the point when she is said to have spotted the defendant accused of her murder 22-year-old Callum Wheeler.

The prosecutor in the case, Alison Morgan QC, told the court that Ms James had seen Wheeler around the woodland in the months prior to her death and had described him as “a really weird dude”.

Ms Morgan said: “She has run out of the wood, doubtless to try to escape her attacker, and has got as far as she could along the path.”

She continued to explain that Ms James fell, either from an initial blow to the head or by tripping, at which point she was subjected to a “violent and sustained blunt force trauma assault to the head”.

Jurors heard that the injuries were so severe they caused her skull to cave in and that they indicated the majority of the blows must have been inflicted while she was face down on the ground with her hood up.

The prosecution say she was killed with a rail jack which was later found in the defendant’s bedroom.

Ms Morgan said: “For the days following on after the murder, the defendant continued to tour around the local area, sometimes carrying his bag and sometimes carrying what the prosecution alleges to be the murder weapon.

“He kept a check on the police cordon. He ran away from police officers and concerned members of the public. 

“You will want to consider why he was behaving in that manner.”

Wheeler’s DNA was found on Ms James’ boots, jacket and white vest that she was wearing underneath a jumper.

Jurors also saw footage from a body-worn camera of an encounter Wheeler had with officers after having dialled 999 10 days prior to the incident.

The footage showed Wheeler telling the officers “Get lost mate” and “I’m not talking to you”, before his father reassured them that he was OK.

Wheeler had previously denied responsibility for the killing but he does now accept he was responsible for her death. 

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