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Woman is found dead on footpath in Kent village sparking huge police response

A female PCSO who was found dead near woodland in a quiet Kent hamlet has been pictured as detectives investigate her ‘suspicious’ death.

The body of Julia James, 53, was found near Akholt Wood in Snowdown, near Aylesham, shortly after 4pm on Tuesday.

The serving PCSO for Kent Police was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Locals have suggested the ‘happy’ and ‘bubbly’ Ms James was ‘out walking her dogs’ ahead of the tragedy. The circumstances of her death remain unclear.

Kent and Essex serious crime detectives are today investigating the circumstances and are treating her death as suspicious. 

Several police vehicles arrived at the scene this afternoon as forensics teams were photographed close to the path on which Ms James’s body was found.

No arrests have been made in the case, Kent Police confirmed.

Nearby fields remain sealed off and a police tent has been set up on a path that runs between a field and woodland.   

The body of Julia James (pictured), 53, was found near to Akholt Wood in Snowdown, near Aylesham, Kent, shortly after 4pm on Tuesday 

The woman (above), a serving PCSO for Kent Police, was pronounced dead at the scene

The woman (above), a serving PCSO for Kent Police, was pronounced dead at the scene

Forensic officers today arrived at the entrance to a path near where the body of Ms James was found on Tuesday

Forensic officers today arrived at the entrance to a path near where the body of Ms James was found on Tuesday

Woman is found dead on footpath in Kent village sparking huge police response

Kent Police was today appealing for any witnesses to come forward.   

Assistant Chief Constable of Kent Police Tom Richards said: ‘Officers are carrying out a number of lines of enquiry to establish the circumstances and people in the Snowdown area will see an increased police presence as a result.

‘It saddens me to confirm that the victim was a serving PCSO for Kent Police and whilst there is a full and thorough investigation underway our thoughts also remain with her family, friends and colleagues.’     

He added: ‘It is vitally important that anyone who was in the area on Monday and Tuesday who may have seen something suspicious gets in touch with us.

‘We’re particularly keen to speak to those who regularly visit the area who may have seen something out of place and those who drove by who have dashcam footage.

‘We would advise anyone in the area to remain vigilant until the full circumstances of the death are established.’ 

Devastated locals say the small community, comprised of roughly 54 houses and part of the civil parish of Aylesham, has been left ‘shocked’ and ‘reeling’.

Nearby fields remain sealed off today and a police tent can be seen on a path that runs between a field and woodland

Nearby fields remain sealed off today and a police tent can be seen on a path that runs between a field and woodland

Police vehicles are seen near to a caravan park in Snowdown, Aylesham, Kent, today

Police vehicles are seen near to a caravan park in Snowdown, Aylesham, Kent, today

Locals have suggested the 'happy' and 'bubbly' Ms James was 'out walking her dogs' ahead of the tragedy. The circumstances of her death remain unclear

Locals have suggested the ‘happy’ and ‘bubbly’ Ms James was ‘out walking her dogs’ ahead of the tragedy. The circumstances of her death remain unclear

One resident described how the area was 'swarmed with police' after the body of Ms James was discovered near woodland yesterday

One resident described how the area was ‘swarmed with police’ after the body of Ms James was discovered near woodland yesterday

Leah Southwell, 18, claimed Ms James was ‘out walking her dogs’ ahead of her death on Tuesday, the Sun reported. 

She said: ‘She was so happy. So bubbly, if you were having a bad day she’d be there smiling at you and trying to make you laugh.’

The teenager also described how the area was ‘swarmed with police’ after the body was discovered near woodland. 

She said: ‘Last night about 10pm, I looked out my window and there were sirens, blue lights all down my road.

Locals say the small community, comprised of roughly 54 houses and part of the village of Aylesham, has been left 'shocked' and 'reeling' after the death

Locals say the small community, comprised of roughly 54 houses and part of the village of Aylesham, has been left ‘shocked’ and ‘reeling’ after the death

Police forensic officers search a field close to where the body of Ms James was found near Aylesham Road, Snowdown, Kent, on Tuesday

Police forensic officers search a field close to where the body of Ms James was found near Aylesham Road, Snowdown, Kent, on Tuesday

Kent Police was appealing for any witnesses to come forward as an investigation continued

Kent Police was appealing for any witnesses to come forward as an investigation continued

Officers are seen outside a home in Snowdown, Kent, today following the death of Ms James

Officers are seen outside a home in Snowdown, Kent, today following the death of Ms James

‘At around 4pm-ish there were two vans, a little van and a squad car, and there was a fire engine as well.

‘Nothing ever happens around here. It’s just shocking to be honest.’   

Another neighbour said: ‘I can’t believe it. She was a loving mum and the pillar of the community. This is devastating. She was a lovely woman. 

‘A terrific part of the community.’

Linda Keen, councillor for Aylesham, Eythorne and Shepherdswell, said: ‘It’s absolutely dreadful news and a tragedy for the woman, her family and the local community who must be in shock. 

‘This sort of incident is very atypical for Aylesham and doesn’t really happen here.

‘I’m sure the police will do absolutely everything they can to establish what has happened.’ 

Officers were called to Snowdown, near Aylesham, Kent, at around 4pm on Tuesday following reports a body had been found near to Akholt Wood. Pictured: The scene today

Officers were called to Snowdown, near Aylesham, Kent, at around 4pm on Tuesday following reports a body had been found near to Akholt Wood. Pictured: The scene today

Kent Police today confirmed the body was that of a serving police community support officer, adding her death is being treated as suspicious

Kent Police today confirmed the body was that of a serving police community support officer, adding her death is being treated as suspicious

Fellow Dover District Councillor for the ward Peter Walker said: ‘Police have a large cordon in place and continue to search after the woman’s body was found. 

‘It seems very serious.

‘It is a tragedy for the locals and will shock this usually peaceful community without a shadow of a doubt. This kind of thing doesn’t happen here.’ 

Charles Woodgate, who also represents Aylesham, Eythorne and Shepherdswell, said: ‘It’s a young woman who was sadly found dead yesterday afternoon.

‘This is a tragedy and a terrible thing to happen here.’

Police rushed to a Kent hamlet last night after a woman was found dead near to a footpath

Police rushed to a Kent hamlet last night after a woman was found dead near to a footpath

Officers were called to Snowdown, near Dover, at around 4pm on Tuesday following reports a body had been found near to Aylesham Road

Officers were called to Snowdown, near Dover, at around 4pm on Tuesday following reports a body had been found near to Aylesham Road

Photographs from the scene show forensics teams in attendance, alongside several police vehicles. Reports claimed a fire engine had also arrived

Photographs from the scene show forensics teams in attendance, alongside several police vehicles. Reports claimed a fire engine had also arrived

Aylesham Parish Council chair Mark Townsend added: ‘It’s a tragedy that the community is reeling from.’       

Kent Fire and Rescue confirmed a fire engine had been in attendance at the scene some two hours after police arrived, but would not confirm the reason for this.     

The South East Coast Ambulance Service also attended and pronounced the serving PCSO dead in the woodland.

A spokesman said: ‘I can confirm we attended the scene and that sadly a woman was pronounced dead at the scene.’ 

It is understood a heavy police presence remained at the scene late into last night

It is understood a heavy police presence remained at the scene late into last night

Witnesses said a footpath was taped off during the incident. Pictured: Police at the scene

Witnesses said a footpath was taped off during the incident. Pictured: Police at the scene

Road closures were in place as officers investigated the death last night.   

Kent Fire and Rescue added: ‘Kent Fire and Rescue Service was called at 18.22 to assist Kent Police in Aylesham Road, in Snowdown, Dover. 

‘One fire engine attended.’    

Kent Police are keen to speak to anyone in the area on Monday or Tuesday who may have seen something unusual or suspicious.

Anyone with information should call 0800 0514526 or can submit video footage online.

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