Julia James murder: Man describes terrible moment he discovered PCSO's body and dog

  • David Gillie describes the moment he found Julia James' body

The man who discovered PCSO Julia James' body after she'd been beaten to death in a field in Kent has spoken of his shock after realising she wasn't breathing.

Local businessman David Gillie went for an afternoon walk in Akholt Wood with his son Matthew and daughter Beth, on the afternoon of 27 April. A short time after they set off - they found Julia's dog Toby.

David then discovered Mrs James' body lying in a field.

The PCSO had been attacked by Callum Wheeler, 22, who was yesterday found guilty of her murder.

"When we found the dog, he was obviously very scared. My children looked after the dog while we looked for the owner.

"I walked into the next field looking for anyone walking, and then I saw something lying in the grass. At first from a distance it looked like a rucksack, just some colours, but as I walked closer, I realised it was a body.

"You just think someone has collapsed, then when we tried to speak to her and got no response, we realised she wasn't breathing. My son then called 999.

David described how he waited at the roadside in Snowdown Hill for emergency services before another police community support officer arrived and checked the body.

"It was an incredible shock, but the hood on her jacket was up over her head so we couldn't see anything sinister, but it was a shock finding someone like that.

David's daughter had walked the same walk the day before on her own, and her sister Hannah said it left them feeling frightened.

  • Hannah Gillie often walked the same walk as Julia James

Following Julia's death, a huge investigation was launched, involving more than 1,000 officers and hundreds of CCTV clips being analysed for clues.

One of those clips was provided by David Gillie, after CCTV cameras on the corner of his business captured the last sighting of Mrs James as she left home on her walk.

Speaking about Callum Wheeler's conviction, David added: "It's a relief that he has been removed from society. He was such a danger.

"You just don't realise someone of that danger could be here amongst us.

"I think everyone in the community has helped police with what happened - there was a huge response. I think it has probably made our community stronger."