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Julia James trial: Callum Wheeler told police he would 'go back to woods to rape and kill women'


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While on remand in custody, Callum Wheeler told staff that if he was released he would go back to the woods to "rape and kill" women.

The revelation came on the fourth day of the 22-year-old's trial at Canterbury Crown Court, where he stands accused of murdering PCSO and mum-of-two Julia James as she walked her dog.

Callum Wheeler, pictured the day after Julia's death in countryside between Aylesham and Snowdown, carrying what is alleged to be the murder weapon. Picture: Kent Police
Callum Wheeler, pictured the day after Julia's death in countryside between Aylesham and Snowdown, carrying what is alleged to be the murder weapon. Picture: Kent Police

The comments were revealed by the prosecution at the end of their evidence, and were not disputed by the defence.

Wheeler's trial has this morning been adjourned until after the weekend.

Judge Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb told jurors: "You may now notice the defendant isn't in court today. I have been discussing the position with counsel and there is a genuine reason we shouldn't go any further with the trial today."

The hearing will resume on Monday.

Yesterday, the court was told that while on remand following his arrest, Wheeler said Julia had "deserved to die".

Jurors were also told that Wheeler had carried out internet searches on his laptop about the killing prior to his arrest on May 7 last year.

Prosecution junior counsel Martin Yale told the court: "[Wheeler] said his case was different because she was 'a copper'.

"He also said she deserved to die. He said that by that he meant 'she was a ******* fat ****.'

"He said he didn't know Julia James. He talked about the woodland area and told staff 'you can't go into the woods and expect to be safe'."

Mr Yale said Wheeler spoke of harming "other people" if he was released.

"He said he would go back to the area and have sex with women without their consent," he said.

"He said because raping a woman would satisfy his needs, it would be justified.

"He said when released he would knock them over to get them on the ground, rape them and kill them afterwards. He said he would assault females and that they deserved to die."

The court also heard that following his arrest, Wheeler spoke of 'wanting the death sentence' and remarked someone 'had ratted' on him.

Court artist sketch of Callum Wheeler appearing at Canterbury Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA)
Court artist sketch of Callum Wheeler appearing at Canterbury Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

He also exposed himself to a female officer by pulling down his trousers while in a cell at Maidstone police station and made several attempts to masturbate.

Having been taken to the floor, he then began telling her to "spank me" and became visibly aroused, added Mr Yale.

"He was handcuffed to the rear to prevent him touching or exposing himself," he said.

"On a number of occasions while in police custody he attempted to masturbate when handcuffs were removed from him."

Wheeler, who has no previous convictions or cautions, had also regularly visited pornographic websites in the month before, and days after Julia's alleged murder.

Callum Wheeler arriving at court at a previous hearing. Picture: BBC
Callum Wheeler arriving at court at a previous hearing. Picture: BBC

His laptop also revealed internet searches on the subject of rape and, in the six days prior to arrest, about Julia herself.

These included a Facebook search for 'PCSO Julia James' and accessing online articles on the Sun, Daily Mail and Telegraph websites about the killing.

His final Google search of Mrs James was made at 7pm, about two-and-a-half hours before he was finally arrested at his home.

During his trial the court has heard there were “no signs of sustained or violent sexual assault” on the mother-of-two.

But prosecutor Alison Morgan QC added: “The lack of such injuries would not necessarily rule that out.”

PCSO Julia James
PCSO Julia James

Wheeler’s DNA was found on Julia’s clothing such as her coat and Wellington boots - and on a white vest top she was wearing beneath two layers of clothing, said the prosecution.

Ms Morgan told the jury they must consider how the DNA came to be on her vest top, “underneath her grey jumper, underneath her blue coat” - and “what the defendant must have done, must have touched, for it to be there”

The jury was told by defence barrister Oliver Blunt QC yesterday that Wheeler had decided he did not wish to give evidence.

Julia was found dead on a path beside Ackholt Wood, near her home in the hamlet of Snowdown outside Canterbury, on April 27 last year.

During the trial, which began on Monday, jurors have heard how the prosecution believes events unfolded that fateful day.

The prosecution alleges Wheeler had waited in Ackholt Wood to "ambush" a female, before chasing Julia and bludgeoning her to death using a heavy pole.

They say the alleged murder weapon was the handle of a railway jack measuring nearly a metre in length, which police found inside Wheeler's bedroom covered in plastic bags containing traces of Julia's blood as well as Wheeler's DNA.

The trial continues.

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