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'I'm scared to go out': Ex-colleague of murdered PCSO Julia James reacts to her death
5 May 2021, 15:24 | Updated: 5 May 2021, 15:27
Friends and former colleagues of Julia James pay tribute
Shocked friends and former colleagues of murdered PCSO Julia James have told LBC they are "scared to go out in the daytime" after her death.
Detectives are continuing to investigate the death of Ms James, 53, who was found dead in Akholt Wood - close to her family home in Snowdown, Kent last week.
The popular PCSO - described as "fiercely loyal" by her devastated family - died from serious head injuries while out walking her dog in an incident which has left the town in a state of shock.
"I used to work with her a long time ago at the meat factory," Theresa Morgan told LBC, "we are all Aylesham girls who know each other.
She described Ms James as "really nice and friendly" but said she was tough, adding that "if somebody got her she would've fought back".
"I remember we used to playfight a little bit at the meat factory, she used to punch me - I couldn't move my arm for days when she used to punch me messing about!"
Reflecting on the impact the incident has had on the area, Ms Morgan said: "I'm in shock - I cannot believe it - something like that happening round here.
"I'm a bit scared to go out in the daytime now - let alone night time - but I've got to go to the shop, haven't I?"
Dozens of bunches of flowers have been laid at a park in Aylesham, near to where Ms James was attacked.
"I known her since...40 years ago," said Joan Luma, a former neighbour of the James family.
"I used to live next door to her...she also babysat my two oldest boys."
Asked how she felt about the incident, she said: "It's very, very sad. I feel so very sad for her parents.
"We always spoke - always - and her mother is just lovely. And her dad."
In a poignant moment on Tuesday evening, a solitary candle was lit outside her family home in Snowdown, Kent.
It was one of many flickering in the local community Ms James served as a popular community support officer.
A group of people also gathered in nearby Aylesham where flowers have been laid in the days following her killing.
Candles were also lit by police colleagues and members of the public further afield, in quiet tribute to the fallen officer.
Her grieving daughter Bethan Coles had called on people to leave candles outside their houses, rather than gather for a vigil, saying it would be a "beautiful nod" to her mother while allowing police to focus on the murder investigation.