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PCSO murder suspect arrested after ‘daughter urged potential witness to call police’

The daughter of murdered PCSO Julia James urged a potential witness to speak to the police before an arrest was made, it has been claimed.

Kent Police announced yesterday a man in his 20s was in custody in connection with the 53-year-old’s death, after her body was found in the Snowden area on April 27.

The force released an image as part of an appeal for help in identifying a man deemed to be of “crucial importance” to the investigation.

He was seen with a Nike sports holdall about a mile from the crime scene in Akholt Wood the day after the murder.

Last night the suspect – confirmed as being a British national from Canterbury – was being questioned by officers.

Responding to the now deleted appeal posted on Kent Police’s Facebook page, a woman from Canterbury claimed her daughter recognised the man in the image, reports the Times.

Forensic officers at an address in Aylesham, Kent following the arrest
Forensic officers at an address in Aylesham, Kent following the arrest

The comment was buried among dozens of others but was spotted by Julia’s daughter Bethan Coles, a police officer herself.

The 31-year-old wrote: “Please go to the police if you have any information. We would be so grateful x.”

The woman, who was not named by the newspaper, is said to have later posted to say that she had made contact with investigators.

Police officers continue their search of fields close to the hamlet of Snowdown
Police officers continue their search of fields close to the hamlet of Snowdown

The force said the arrest was made at 9.30pm on Friday.

A search is taking place at a property in Sunshine Corner Avenue, Aylesham, which is linked to enquiries being made in relation to the murder, police have said.

Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards, from Kent Police, said: “We continue to urge anyone with information, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, to contact us.

“If you were in the Snowdown area between 1pm and 4.30pm on Tuesday 27 April, please contact us.

Julia James
Julia James was a popular member of the police force and community

“This includes anyone local who may have seen something out of place at the time, or who came across someone who made them feel uneasy – such as feeling compelled to cross the road or change the route they were walking.”

Kent Police said on Thursday that the search area was being broadened to include “a number of other locations” in addition to the woodland where she was found.

Ms James, described as “fiercely loyal” by her family, died from serious head injuries while out walking her dog.

On Wednesday, police issued an image of her in the clothes she was wearing before she was killed.

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The picture shows Ms James walking her Jack Russell, Toby, while wearing a light blue waterproof coat, blue jeans and dark Wellington-style brown boots.

Police said it was the same clothing, apart from the gloves, which she wore on the day she died.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said one if its national senior investigating officer advisors (NSIOA) was leading a team of officers from the agency’s Major Crime Investigative Support unit (MCIS), who are providing advice and guidance, as well as access to a number of specialists, to Kent Police.

The NCA said its support included a national family liaison advisor, national interview advisor (witnesses and suspects), digital media advisor, geographical and behavioural profiling, a forensic clinical psychologist and national injuries specialist.

NSIOA Noel McHugh, from the MCIS, said: “While we cannot go into any further detail in order to protect the investigation, I hope outlining the breadth of our work illustrates our commitment to seeking justice for Julia.”

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