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Daughter of Julia James, the PCSO killed a week ago, urges people to light a candle in her memory

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 04/05/2021 Martin Evans
a close up of a person wearing a hat and smiling at the camera: PCSO Julia James was killed a week ago in Kent © Provided by The Telegraph PCSO Julia James was killed a week ago in Kent

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The grieving daughter of PCSO Julia James has urged people to light a candle to remember her mother -  exactly a week on from when she was bludgeoned to death as she walked her dog on a remote footpath in Kent.

Bethan Coles has asked people to leave candles on their doorsteps as a "beautiful nod" to the popular police community support officer.

Well wishers had been planning a vigil in the village close to where Julia, 53, was found dead last Tuesday with her Jack Russell terrier unharmed by her side.

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She had suffered significant head injuries.

But Miss Coles has urged friends and villagers to light a candle instead so that police resources are not diverted away from the investigation.

Police have said they still have no clear motive behind the killing and are continuing to appeal for people who were in the area at the time to come forward.

A local police chief has assured the community that "some of the very best detectives in the land" are working to bring Mrs James's killer to justice.

a group of people in a field: Police search teams are continuing to scour the area where the PCSO's body was found © Gareth Fuller/PA Police search teams are continuing to scour the area where the PCSO's body was found

In a Facebook post, Ms Coles said: "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."

Instead she suggested people wishing to remember her mother should light a candle for her and leave it on their doorstep.

She added: "This would be a beautiful nod to Mum in a way that doesn't intrude on the police investigation."

They have started a social media campaign to help keep awareness of the murder investigation in the public eye called #justiceforjulia.

Meanwhile police are urging locals to take extra care if venturing out alone and to always let others know where they will be.

Dover Chief Inspector Dab Carter said: "We understand if people are feeling uncertain at the moment about their safety following the death of PCSO Julia James in Snowdown.

"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 doing and how long you will be".

Specialist search teams are continuing to scour areas of woodland and fields close to he spot on a footpath on the edge of Ackholt Wood near Aylesham, Kent where Mrs James's body was found.

At a press conference on Friday, Kent Police Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards declined to rule out that Ms James was killed by a stranger, someone she came across during her work, someone trying to steal her dog, or as part of a sexual assault.

Mr Richards would not comment on any potential murder weapon and also declined to say whether detectives had found signs of a struggle.

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