Man jailed for life the murder of Kent Police PCSO Julia James
UPDATED with sentence: Callum Wheeler has been sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering Kent Police PCSO Julia James, as she walked her dog in the woods near her home.
On 27 April 2021, Wheeler, 22, set off from his home, armed with the railway jack he would later use to kill Julia, who died as the result of blunt force trauma to her head.
Wheeler being familiar with the woods - having been seen there in the months prior by witnesses including one whose picture of Wheeler provided key evidence - lay in wait and ambushed her.
Extensive CCTV and dash cam footage, alongside identifications by witnesses, placed Wheeler near the scene before and after the attack. Crucial evidence from a Smart Watch worn by Julia showed her last movements including the route she took, the speed she travelled and her heart rate.
Wheeler’s DNA was found on Julia’s boot, jacket and a vest top she was wearing when she was killed, while blood matching hers was discovered on Wheeler’s shoes and the murder weapon found in his bedroom.
When police searched Wheeler’s home, they seized his laptop which showed internet searches for pornography and articles relating to Julia’s murder.
The jury heard that when remanded in custody, Wheeler told staff this case was “different because she was a copper” and that she “deserved to die”. He also talked of the woodland area where the attack happened, saying if he was released, he would harm other people and that “you can’t go into the woods and expect to be safe”.
Wheeler originally pleaded not guilty, but when faced with the overwhelming evidence in the prosecution’s case accepted responsibility though claimed her death was not his intention.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum of 37 years, today at Canterbury Crown Court. On 16 May 2022, a jury found him guilty of murder.
Matt Capes, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS South East said: “This is a truly shocking and heart-rending case. Julia James had a right to walk her dog, and to enjoy life’s freedoms, without fear of violence.
“The result of Wheeler’s callous and cowardly actions has left Julia’s family and friends devastated, and a community shocked by her loss.
“Wheeler’s action before, during and after the attack left absolutely no room for doubt that he was the man responsible for Julia’s death.
“We were able to present clear and compelling evidence that proved his intent to kill Julia due to the thorough investigation by Kent Police which included DNA evidence, witness testimony and CCTV footage.
“Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Julia who have shown courage and dignity throughout the course of the police investigation and court proceedings.”
Notes to editors
- Callum Wheeler [DOB: 02/02/2000] was convicted of murder following a trial at Canterbury Crown Court on 16 May 2022. He has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 37 years.
- Matt Capes is a Senior Crown Prosecutor within the CPS South East Complex Casework Unit.
- Kate Brown is the Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS South East