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Man arrested in hunt for PCSO Julia James's killer

·4-min read
An image of PCSO Julia James in the clothes she was last wearing, released by detectives investigating her death - Kent Police
An image of PCSO Julia James in the clothes she was last wearing, released by detectives investigating her death - Kent Police

Detectives hunting the killer of PCSO Julia James have arrested a man in his 20s, they revealed on Saturday.

The arrest came 11 days after Mrs James, 53, was found bludgeoned to death in woodland near her home in Snowdown, Kent, on April 27, shortly after leaving the house with her Jack Russell dog.   

A Kent Police spokesman said: "Officers investigating the death of Julia James have arrested a man in connection with her murder.

"A man in his 20s from the Canterbury area was arrested at 9.30pm on Friday 7 May 2021, and remains in custody."

The arrest came after detectives identified a man they wanted to speak to in connection with the killing of PCSO Julia James.

Kent Police say they are no longer seeking information about the man after an image was widely circulated by the force.

Officers had released a photograph on Friday of a man they said could be of “crucial importance” to the investigation.

But later in the day the force said the man had been identified and they were no longer appealing for information about him.

Watch: Friend of murdered PCSO Julia James: She was 'ray of sunshine'

However Kent Police renewed their appeal for any information that might help them in their hunt for Mrs James’ killer, with the force so far unable to establish what the motive for the attack was.

Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards said: “I can confirm we have identified the man in the photo and we no longer need the media to run his image, nor do we need further information about him at this time.

“It remains that we still need to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time between 1pm and 4.30 pm on Tuesday 27 April 2021, as well as anyone local who may have seen something out of place at the time or who came across someone who made them feel uneasy - such as feeling compelled to cross the road or change the route they were walking.

“Despite identifying this individual, we are still keen to hear from those who have information that may help us.”

The body of Julia James, 53, was found on a footpath in Snowdown near Aylesham - Kent Police
The body of Julia James, 53, was found on a footpath in Snowdown near Aylesham - Kent Police

Kent’s Chief Constable Alan Pughsley admitted on Friday morning that the force does not know whether the killer was a man or a woman or the motive for the attack. A post-mortem revealed Mrs James died from significant head injuries.

Her body was found at 4.08pm on Tuesday April 27. Police said she had been working at home that day before taking her Jack Russell Toby for a walk in the Aylesham Road area around 3pm.

Mr Pughsley also confirmed that Kent Police had asked other forces for assistance in the widening investigation. He said detectives from other parts of the UK were being drafted in to help with door-to-door inquiries and also to assist in the painstaking fingertip search of the rural location that was still taking place at and around the scene of the crime.

He would not confirm if a weapon had been found but said: "We are looking for many, many pieces of evidence to tie this person into Julia's murder. We are not 100 per cent sure what weapon was used to kill Julia. It was a severe traumatic injury but it would be wrong to talk about what style of weapon was used until we have the suspect and have some more detail around the weapon that was used."

Mrs James' husband Paul earlier broke his silence, writing on a Facebook page: “ 'I miss you so much Luvly xxx' under a picture of the pair on their wedding day.

Her son-in-law Chase Coles said more than 8,600 people have changed their profile picture to include the family's appeal filter, with the #justiceforjulia hashtag being shared more than 5,000 times.

Mr Coles said in a Facebook post: "Huge thank you to Crime Stoppers who are now offering a 10k reward for anyone with crucial information.

"Please, we have to keep sharing all we can! Someone knows something! Julia was taken from us in such a barbaric way. No family should have to endure this.

"We need to find the inhuman and absolute evil person responsible before it happens again! They cannot be allowed to walk amongst us!"