The following was reported by Roy Stilling using the Fortean Times - On line reporting service

Seen in Winchester Gazette Extra (Hampshire, S. England) on Thursday September 7th, 1995

A Police officer is among the latest to report sightings of a black beast on the prowl near Winchester. Fears that a big cat is romaing the countryside around Winchester were renewed last week after a police officer caught sight of the mystery animal.

PC Stephen Challis, 46, of North Walls police station, spotted the black beast in a field in Abbotts Barton on Friday morning. [September 1st, 1995]

"It was about the size of a springer spaniel or fox, but it was black like a domestic cat," he said.

The police officer said the beast was about 2ft high and about 3ft in length, including its bushy tail. "I am convinced it was a large cat," he added.

He was called out by pensioner Walter Clarke, 85, of Francis Gardens who saw the big cat in a field near his house.

Mr Clarke said: "It just looked like a very big cat, it wasn't enormous but it was about three of four times the size of a normal cat."

Pc Challis borrowed Mr Clarke's binoculars and watched the cat from a distance of 150 yards.

"It seemed to look at me and I decided to go and have a closer look," he said.

But as he approached the animal it disappeared into the undergrowth.

The brave policeman was not scared of the big cat and said: "It was more scared of me than I was of it."

Another resident who spotted the animal on Sunday [September 3rd, 1995] was Jim Turnbull.

As he stood on his porch in Austen Close he saw a large black cat about 20ft away.

"It was feeding from a wheelie bin and when I let my dog out the cat went bounding off toward's King's Worthy," he said.

"It was about three times the size of a domestic cat and about 2ft tall."

In the early hours of Friday morning he heard an animal, which sounded like a leopard, growling outside his house.

Last December Hampshire County Council worker Ron Kirby, 46, said he saw a puma savage a roe deer 100 yards from his house in Chaundler Road.

The deer's corpse was examined by Peter Small, a veterinary expert at Marwell Zoological Park, who said the attack was probably carried out by a big cat.

A spokeswoman for Marwell Zoo said they had had several reports of sightings over the weekend but could not comment unless they saw it themselves.

This has been reported via the Fortean Times On-line Reporting service at >>>