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Husband of murdered PCSO says pair ‘were on honeymoon every day’

Paul James, husband of PCSO Julia James outside Canterbury Crown Court (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Paul James, husband of PCSO Julia James outside Canterbury Crown Court (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Police community support officer Julia James and her husband Paul were so in love that they would call each other three or four times a day, and still felt like they were on honeymoon.

In a moving interview after Callum Wheeler, 22, was found guilty of his wife’s murder, Mr James described how his heart would still flutter when he saw Mrs James.

He said: “My heart would flutter every time I’d see her and I would tell her that every day, every morning, every night, and we used to call each other three or four times.

“We were on honeymoon every day, every day it was still a honeymoon.”

Callum Wheeler court case
Julia James (Family handout)

The couple had planned to travel, and had spent their honeymoon in Mauritius, which Mr James said was “just mind-blowing for her”, and for him the memory of seeing his wife’s joy during the trip would “last me the rest of my days”.

Mr James added: “I feel it all the time even now, her presence with me.”

His stepson Patrick Davis, 24, said Mr James has been “amazing” and that he has “kept really strong”.

Mr Davis said he was worried about Mr James because of how much he loved his mother and how happy they made each other.

Mrs James’s daughter Bethan Coles, 33, said: “He made my mum really, really happy.

“The years that they have spent together have been the happiest I’ve ever seen my mum.”

Ms Coles said they are keen to keep talking about their mother.

Callum Wheeler court case
PCSO Julia James’ son Patrick Davies, and daughter Bethan Coles (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“As a family, we want to get together with friends and think about not how mum’s life ended but actually how she was as a person,” Ms Coles told the PA news agency.

Mr Davis said they will remember the “amazing life” his mother had and “not how it was ended by that monster”.

He said they have “always been a really close family”, while Ms Coles added: “We had a good life. Mum made sure of it really.”

Mrs James was beaten to death in woodland near her home on April 27 last year while walking her dog.

Wearing her engagement and wedding rings on a chain around his neck, Mr James said he was “still extremely heartbroken” at her death.

He said: “My heart literally broke in half, and I’ve been trying to fix it every day.”

Speaking to reporters on the court steps, Paul James said of Julia: “I can’t explain how much I love her. You have to feel that. You can’t tell that in words.”

He said she was “just amazing”, adding: “She was massive, yet she stood so small, but she was massive.”

Mr James said he was “lost for words”.

“I just hurt so much,” he said.

Callum Wheeler court case
Callum Wheeler (Elizabeth Cook)

In February last year, Mr and Mrs James were out on a walk together when they saw Wheeler, who Mrs James had previously described as “a really weird dude”.

Mr James said: “I went to him and spoke to him, and I asked him ‘everything alright?’

“He was so odd and he wouldn’t engage me. So I stood my ground and he walked around me.”

After that, the couple avoided the route for a couple of months, but then Julia felt safe again, and Mr James bought her a smart watch to wear while she was out.

He has had a bench built to put at a spot near the woodland that was special to the couple, known for its abundance of butterflies.

Mr James believes Wheeler would have gone on to kill again had he remained free.

He said: “For a lot of other people that would have got worse had Julia not died.

“What that guy was intending to do in my opinion, he was going to hurt many, many women, do lots of bad things.”

Ms Coles said the trial has been “overwhelming”.

The family sat through graphic evidence about the extent of their mother’s injuries, including body worn video footage of her body when it was found.

She said: “Her having to run, being so scared in those last moments of her life like that.

“It’s pretty awful.”

Describing Wheeler, she said: “I think he’s just a vile excuse for a human being.”

Ms Coles said he “clearly is a threat to women”, adding that the guilty verdict is “really important for the safety of people in the community”.