United Kingdom

Police use sniffer dogs and scour drains as search of PCSO murder suspect's home enter fifth day

Police investigating the death of PCSO Julia James today searched drains and brought in sniffer dogs to the home of the man charged with her murder.

Forensic teams were at the Aylesham address given by Callum Wheeler, 21, for the fifth day running after his arrest.

He was charged with killing the 53-year-old police officer on Monday night after being arrested on Friday.

Since the start of the weekend police have been at his home searching through the property. 

Today was the first time sniffer dogs, used to detect evidence invisible to the naked eye, were used in the procedure. 

Wheeler appeared at Medway Magistrates Court in person yesterday before being remanded back into custody ahead of his case at Maidstone Crown Court tomorrow.

Mrs James, a mother of two, went missing while walking her beloved Jack Russell near to her home in Snowdown, Kent, last month.

 A forensic officer leads a sniffer dog into the address given as suspect Callum Wheeler's home today as colleagues searched

Callum Wheeler, aged 21, from Aylesham, in Kent, was arrested on Friday, May 7, and brought to court yesterday morning

She was later found dead by members of the public in nearby Akholt Wood on Tuesday, April 27.

Detectives investigating Mrs James' death say she had suffered head injuries. Her dog, named Toby, was unharmed and remained beside her body. 

Kent officers yesterday decided to stage a reconstruction of the PCSO's last steps and used the same pet with an actress to complete the effect. 

An actress, playing the role of Julia, took Toby on the ten minute journey from her house in Snowdown, Kent, to the perimeter of Ackholt Woods. 

Police said they hope that reconstructing her final moments will encourage more potential witnesses to come forward with information about the murder.

Dressed in a turquoise waterproof Berghaus jacket and navy tight-fitting jeans tucked into black wellies, the blonde middle-aged actress known only as Sue, led Toby on a neon yellow lead through the fields behind Julia's home and towards the woods.

Detectives investigating the death of PCSO Julia James have now charged a man, Callum Wheeler, 21, from Aylesham

An actress playing the role of PCSO Julia James walks her Jack Russell dog Toby, who was found at the scene

PCSO Julia James's Jack Russell dog Toby, who was found at the scene, was used in the reconstruction for her investigation

The journey, which takes around ten minutes on foot, saw Julia leave her house through the back gate of her garden and turn right onto a weed-covered footpath, bordered by thick woodland on either side.

After around a minute and a half of walking, she exited the woodland into a large farmer's field, bordered on the far right side by Aylesham Road and on the far left side, Ackholt Woods.

The Snowdown Caravan site is visible over the top of the hedgerow on the opposite side of Aylesham Road.

Julia took the walk with Toby regularly from her home in Snowdown.

She then headed through the field in the direction of Aylesham, keeping to the perimeter hedgerow which runs along Aylesham Road.

Heading in the same direction, she then slipped through an opening in a hedgerow separating this field from the second one, before turning left and following a bridleway along the foliage border between the fields in the direction of Ackholt Woods.

The reconstruction ended a couple of metres away from a rectangular area sealed off with police tape at the edge of Ackholt Woods, where Julia was killed.

A log by the side of the woods read: 'NO RIGHT OF WAY. THIS IS A CONSERVATION STRIP.'

Julia's brave Jack Russell, Toby, seemed unfazed by retracing his beloved owner's final moments, wagging his tail at intervals.

Detectives directing the reconstruction brought treats and water along for him.

Police officers search a field off Ratling Road in Aylesham, Kent, earlier this week as part of the investigation into the death

Police officers line up as they prepare to walk into the woodlands during their searches for evidence following the murder

Assistant Chief Constable, Tom Richards, said he hoped the reconstruction would encourage more witnesses who may have been in the area to come forward with information.

He said: 'Today I continue to appeal for witnesses.

'I'm confident that there were people in the area at the time who we're keen to speak to.

'We have an obligation to piece together what happened in the last moments of Julia's life.

'The actress will be wearing clothing identical to the clothing worn by Julia that day.

'Her walk took approximately 30 to 40 minutes.'

He added: 'Once again I appeal to anyone who remembers anything at all to help us piece together the last vital pieces.

'What we will see today is the actress and Toby leaving the area of her home address and entering the pathway, then exiting that pathway on to the edge of a field.

'We will see her conclude her walk and enter the woodland where she was found.

'We want to make this as realistic and authentic for the public as possible.'

He added: 'We still have accounts of people in the woods and fields of that area who we don't think we've identified

'I still think there were people enjoying the beautiful countryside in that area and I appeal for people to come forward.

'We have had special support from local residents.

'It's possible that someone just passing through is aware of those events.'

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