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Attempted dognappings in area where killed PCSO Julia James was found


An article appeared in the latest edition of the village’s parish magazine warning of a dognapping attempt (Picture: PA / REX / Getty Images)

People living near to where a PCSO was killed in Kent were warned of a dognapper in the weeks leading up to her death.

The body of Julia James, 53, was discovered in the village of Snowdown, near Dover, last Tuesday afternoon with her faithful Jack Russell dog, Toby, waiting by her side.

Police launched a murder investigation but have since admitted they have no suspects so far about who killed her and why – and are still trying to figure out the motive.

But it has since emerged there was a spate of attempted dognappings in the area shortly before Mrs James died of serious head injuries.

An article appeared in the latest edition of the Nonington parish magazine warning of how two dog walkers were approached by a man in his 60s on March 16 who asked to ‘exchange’ their dog for cigarettes in the country lanes near Aylesham, close to the village of Snowdown.

The article is headlined: ‘Dog abductors in Nonington area.’

It reads: ‘Dog owners are warned to be vigilant when your dog is outside the house. Your dog cannot be safely left unsupervised even in your own garden!

‘Today (Tuesday 16 March) two dog-walkers were approached – in broad daylight – by a man in his 60s, from a black BMW in the lanes between Nonington and Aylesham, asking to exchange their pet dog for cigarettes and did they want to get rid of the dog anyway!

Police officers continue to search a field close to the hamlet of Snowdown, in Kent (Picture: PA)
The body of Julia James, 53, was discovered last Tuesday afternoon (Picture: REX)
A woman lays a floral tribute for Mrs James in Aylesham (Picture: Getty Images)

‘The advice is not to be alone, if possible. Extra precautions should be taken such as walking with a stick, keeping your dog close and on a lead, carrying an alarm and having your mobile phone fully charged.

‘Please can you report any such approaches to police, taking careful not of any car number plates and other identifying details.’

People were urged to report anything suspicious to the local police team.

A number of local residents said they had heard of several similar incidents in recent months.

Bob Hales, 74 and a retired HGV driver, 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.

‘I know about it because my wife is in the Wingham WI [Women’s Institute].

‘It’s quite concerning. Our dog died a few years so thankfully we don’t have to worry about it so much.’

Officers have remained in Aylesham over the past few days, providing a presence following concerns from residents (Picture: Getty Images)
The death of popular Mrs James has shocked the community (Picture: Getty Images)

His neighbour Pat Moon, 77 and a a retired postal worker, added: ‘I’ve heard that people have been trying to take dogs and people have been beaten up.

‘It was about two months ago I heard this. It’s quite scary.

‘We tend to avoid that area and just walk our dogs around the back. The dogs are old too now.

‘Thankfully, we’ve had no problems ourselves.’

The revelation comes after Mrs James’ family pleaded for anyone with information about her death to help get ‘justice for Julia’ over the weekend.

Her uncle Michael Turnbull appealed for the public’s help to ‘find this monster before he can cause more grief to another family’.

He described her killer as ‘some worthless cowardly excuse for a human being’ who attacked her ‘for no other reason than his own sense of self gratification’.

Mrs James, who lived with her husband of four years, Paul, in the village, had been a devoted PCSO for more than 15 years.

Officers have remained in Aylesham over the past few days, providing a presence following concerns from shaken residents.

Police tape has been put across the entrance to Akholt Woods, where Mrs James was understood to have used while out walking her Jack Russell terrier.

Officers in black could be seen inspecting trees and hedgerows in the fields behind Aylesham Road, and a police vehicles were seen parked in country lanes.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

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