Julia James trial: Man accused of murdering PCSO caught on camera 'with weapon'

The man accused of murdering police community support officer Julia James was photographed with a weapon in a bag the day after her death, a court was told.

Jurors at Canterbury Crown Court were shown an image of Callum Wheeler, 22, walking in fields near Aylesham, Kent, on April 28 last year.

In footage, taken by gamekeeper Gavin Tucker who worked for nearby Nethersole Farm, Wheeler is carrying a blue holdall - with a long object poking out of it, covered with carrier bags.

Prosecutors say the object was the railway jack Wheeler used to bludgeon 53-year-old Julia James.

Dashcam footage from Mr Tucker's vehicle captured a conversation between Mr Tucker and Wheeler as the defendant walked near to the junction of Pond Lane and Spinney Lane, close to Aylesham. After being asked what he was doing, Wheeler said he was "lost or new to the area", jurors heard.

Having seen the same man in the area the previous September, Mr Tucker told the court: "I knew he was lying."

As Wheeler hurried away, the gamekeeper called police to report "a suspicious fella I have just approached and he's running off."

On September 21 2020, Mr Tucker twice challenged Wheeler while walking in fields near Ackholt Wood and told his colleague to keep an eye out for him, the court heard.

Mr Tucker said from the witness box: "It was just the way that he came across to me. Obviously seeing him twice within a short period of time, I didn't like the way it was."

Julia James was off-duty and walking her jack russell Toby in fields and woodland near the back of her home in Snowdown, Kent, when she was attacked on April 27 2021.

Earlier, the jury was told that 10 days before the alleged murder, Wheeler made an abandoned 999 call to police. When two PCSOs arrived at the home in Sunshine Corner Avenue, Aylesham, that he shared with his father, the court heard Wheeler called them "phoney".

Julia James died from head injuries Credit: Kent Police/PA

Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC said: "The defendant asked how the police knew where he was. He said it must have been an accident and that he was joking."

She added: "Callum Wheeler then began to say that the PCSOs were not real police and that they were phoney. He said he was not going to talk to them. He told them to get lost, go on their way and bother someone else.

"The defendant Callum Wheeler was laughing behind the door, saying it wasn't even the real police." Dog handler Pc Scott James told the court he had also seen someone matching Callum Wheeler's description walking in a field near Adisham Road in Aylesham at around 8pm on April 28, carrying a blue bag with something long protruding from it.

Mr James was in the area working as part of searches following the death of Mrs James. The man ran off towards the tree line as the officer turned his car around, so Mr James went to the nearby housing estate to try to find him, but could not.

The court heard Wheeler had walked through a gap in the hedge and back to his home in Sunshine Corner Avenue, which is on that housing estate.

Jurors were also read agreed facts about sightings of Wheeler before Mrs James died. One witness, Angela Murphy, saw the defendant near her home in Aylesham between midday and 1pm on April 27.

Junior prosecution counsel Martin Yale told the court: "She had seen the defendant on a regular basis before. "The defendant was standing at the end of the alley and making her feel uncomfortable.

"She noticed that he was wearing a hooded top with the hood up and holding a bag.

"He was stooped to the right side of his body."

Callum Wheeler, 22, admits killing Mrs James, but denies murder.

The trial continues.