Julia James trial: Apple Watch ‘captured PCSO’s last moments when it saw a killer in the woods’

The jury heard that a smartwatch worn by Julia James in her last moments recorded a sudden rise in her heart rate when she discovered her killer in the woods and tried to escape. A police community support officer’s Apple watch showed her heart rate had risen from 97 to 145 within seconds at the point she was said to have spotted Calum Wheeler in Ackholt Wood, Kent on April 27 last year.

Jurors at Canterbury Crown Court were told that Mrs James, 53, was walking her Jack Russell dog, Toby, when she was chased and hit in the head with a railroad jack. Wheeler, 22, of Elysham, Kent, has confessed to her murder but denies the killing.

Prosecutor Allison Morgan QC told the court that Mrs. James saw Wheeler around Acholt Wood, near her home in the village of Snowdown in Kent, in the months before her death, and described him to her husband, Paul, as a “really strange man”. On the day she died, she saw Mrs. James Wheeler in the same place she had been before.

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Ms. Morgan said: “The defendant was in the same place Paul James and Julia James had seen before, and at that point Julia James’ heart rate went up.” She suddenly veered off the path through the wooded area. It started moving along the edge of the field.”

“She ran out of the woods, no doubt trying to escape her attacker, and cut as far as she could along the way,” the prosecutor continued. Then Mrs. James fell, either from the first blow to the head or stumbling, and the court heard, she received a violent and continuous blow to the head.

“Given the serious nature of the violent injuries to her head that caused her skull to collapse, most of these injuries must have been sustained when she was on the ground with her bonnet raised,” Ms Morgan said. The court heard that she died “extremely quickly” from her injuries.

Julia James was a 53-year-old police community support officer

Prosecutors alleged that Mrs. James was murdered with a metal rail jack that, they say, was later found in the defendant’s bedroom. Morgan went through forensic evidence found on Jack and Julia James’ clothes, including Weller’s DNA found on her shoes and a white jacket and jacket she was wearing under a jacket.

The attorney general said that when officers went to arrest him at his home in Elysham, he barricaded himself in his bedroom and declared “clear denial”, but later made comments such as “sometimes I do things I cannot control”. She also told jurors that in the days before his arrest, Wheeler wandered the local area with a bag believed to contain the alleged murder weapon, avoided police, and checked a cordon around the whereabouts of Mrs. James’s murder.

The jury was told that while Wheeler denies the murder, the prosecution claims that he intended to kill her or at least cause her serious harm. Ms. Morgan told the court: ‘He waited for Julia James or some other weak female to be in that woods. She waited to be ambushed. He chased her.’

She ran, desperate to evade her attacker. Unable to get past him, he stunned him while putting on his Wellington boots, hitting her. She fell to the ground, breaking her wrist.
“Then, when she was on the ground, he hit her over and over. She had no chance of surviving. When he hit her like that over and over, using that weapon, he knew it and he intended it.”

Several members of Ms James’ family came to court to hear the prosecution’s opening of the case.

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