Snowdown: Family of PSCO killed while walking dog 'devastated'

Video report by ITV News Meridan's Kit Bradshaw

A relative of a Police Community Support Officer who was found dead in Kent on Tuesday has said the incident has 'devastated' their 'close' family.

The body of 53-year-old Julia James was found in Ackholt Wood, close to the village of Snowdown.

Police are treating the mother-of-two's death as murder, with detectives carrying out searches in the local area and making enquiries.

Margaret Burnett, who is a cousin of Julia’s mother and describes herself as a distant relative, says the whole family is absolutely devastated following the news of Julia's death.

"It's just an awful thing to happen on your doorstep."

"It's upset me dreadfully. And I can't say I was close to Julia as she got older, but it's the way it's affected us all, every one of us. We're deeply affected.

"And it's a regular place I walk with my dog and I go down there two or three times a week. And it's just unbelievable that it can happen on your doorstep."

Margaret hopes police investigating Julia's death will be able to find those responsible.

"I can only hope it doesn't go on and on, because nothing is going to make you feel better. But in one respect, you feel more at ease and comfort that they've got whoever has done this dreadful thing."

Police have been carrying searches near to where Julia James was found. Credit: ITV News

Meanwhile the Home Secretary has expressed her condolences to Julia's family.

Priti Patel said she was "So saddened to hear of the death of Kent PCSO Julia James. I offer my sincere condolences to Julia's friends, family and colleagues at this awful time."

Kent Police's Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards said it was "vitally important" that anyone who was in the area on Monday and Tuesday, who may have seen something suspicious, comes forward.

"We're particularly keen to speak to those who regularly visit the area who may have seen something out of place and those who drove by who have dashcam footage."

The force has asked media outlets to include their contact details: You can contact Kent Police on the Witness Appeal Line 0800 0514 526. Anyone with video forage can submit it online.