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Daughter of murdered PCSO calls for doorstep vigils as police probe ‘dognapping’ claims

The devastated daughter of murdered PCSO Julia James has called on people to light candles on their doorsteps a week on from her death.

Bethan Coles has pleaded with the public to help bring her mum’s killer to justice as police vow to “leave no stone unturned”.

Kent Police are being supported by the National Crime Agency (NCA), who are investigating to see if a series of suspected dognapping attempts are linked to last Tuesday’s tragedy.

Popular Julia, 53, who had worked for the force since 2008, was found dead in woodland near her home in Snowdown, Kent, at around 4pm last Tuesday.

Police have refused to rule out the possibility that she was attacked by a stranger as she walked her dog.

PCSO Julia James was killed as she walked her dog close to her home in Snowdown, Kent
PCSO Julia James was killed as she walked her dog close to her home in Snowdown, Kent

In a heartbreaking Facebook

post, Bethan said the family does not want people to gather for a vigil, as they do not want to divert resources from the investigation.

She wrote last night: “I’m so grateful for people sharing posts for #justiceforjulia

“A number of people have asked about holding a vigil for Mum, and whilst I am so grateful for people wanting to remember her, I am very conscious that any gathering would need to be policed (if it was even allowed), I’ve discussed this with my family and we are in agreement that we would prefer all police resources to be concentrating on the investigation as there is so much work to be done.

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Heartfelt tributes have been paid to the 53-year-old Kent Police PCSO
Heartfelt tributes have been paid to the 53-year-old Kent Police PCSO

“I’ve been thinking perhaps we could ask those who wish to remember Mum to light a candle for her and leave it on their doorstep. This would be a beautiful nod to Mum in a way that doesn’t intrude on the Police investigation.

“Tomorrow marks a week since we lost Mum. At 7pm I will light a candle for her. #justiceforjulia

In recent weeks there have been a number of reports of attempted dognappings in the area around Snowdown, The Times reports.

Bob Hales, who lives nearby, told the newspaper that a van had been seen with RSPCA on the side – even though it wasn’t linked to the charity.

The 74-year-old said: “We did have a little spate of attempted dognappings around here, mainly in Wingham. It was in the last few weeks. Apparently there was a van going around with RSPCA on the side, but it wasn’t really the RSPCA.”

People have been urged to light candles outside their homes rather than gather for a vigil
People have been urged to light candles outside their homes rather than gather for a vigil

A National Crime Agency spokesperson said: “The NCA’s Major Crime Investigative Support unit is providing specialist support and advice to the ongoing Kent Police investigation.”

Yesterday The Mirror reported that people living near the scene where Julia was bludgeoned to death have been told to keep their phones charged and tell others where they are going.

In a message to the public, Dover Chief Inspector Dan Carter said: “We understand if people are feeling uncertain at the moment about their safety following the death of PCSO Julia James in Snowdown.

Julia's family have called on anyone with information that can help identify the killer to contact police
Julia’s family have called on anyone with information that can help identify the killer to contact police

“Although events like these are incredibly rare it remains sensible for people to consider these guidelines whilst still continuing with their daily lives.

“Remain cautious, vigilant and aware of your surroundings when you are out and about.

“Remember to keep your phone on you and charged,plan your route and tell someone where you are going and how long you will be.

“The safety of our communities remains our priority and we urge anyone who has concerns to speak to our officers who are out and about in the local community or contact Kent Police directly.”



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