Man who murdered PCSO Julia James in brutal and vicious sex attack jailed for life

Callum Wheeler was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court on Friday

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The man who murdered PCSO Julia James in a “brutal and vicious” sex attack as she walked her dog has been handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 37 years.

Callum Wheeler, 22, waited for the mother-of-two, 53, in Ackholt Wood armed with a large metal bar before ambushing her near her home in Snowdown, Kent, on the afternoon of April 27 last year.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC said Mrs James was subjected to a “brutal and fatal attack” as she fell to the ground while fleeing her attacker, adding: “This was a murder involving sexual conduct.”

He was seen roaming around the countryside with the weapon the day before he killed Mrs James, who was off duty, walking her dog, a Jack Russell called Toby.

Julia James
Julia James

Wheeler, who was carried into the Canterbury Crown Court dock on Friday, wearing handcuffs, by staff from Broadmoor high security psychiatric hospital, in Berkshire, where he has been held, was found guilty of murder in May.

He was jailed for life with a minimum term of 37 years on Friday by Mr Justice Wall, who told him: “The attack you launched on her was brutal and vicious.”

Mr Wall told Wheeler: “Your actions have not just served to end the one life prematurely but have also destroyed the lives of the whole of her family.

“I am drawn on the evidence to the obvious conclusion that this was a not a spur of the moment aberration by you.

“Rather it was an attack which was planned and thought through in advance.”

He added: “You were there looking for a lone female victim and you were sexually motivated to do so.”

Callum Wheeler
Callum Wheeler

Speaking before sentencing, Ms James' son Patrick Davis said his mother’s life had been taken because of a “sick, twisted individual’s strange desires”.

He said: “He should never see the light of day again.

“Why should he?

“My mum only wanted to walk her dog but had her life ended by this disgusting creature.

“I will not refer to him as a human being.”

Ms James’ daughter Bethan Coles added: “I have struggled to find the right words to describe how it has devastated my life and the lives of my family.

“My life has changed beyond measure.

“To lose my own parent, the woman I loved the most in the world is truly awful.

“To know how she was brutally attacked in broad daylight having run for her life is horrific.

“It haunts me every day of my life.”