Big cat sighting revealed in Suffolk

A PRISON officer has told of her amazement at being confronted by a giant cat while driving through the Suffolk countryside.

Danielle Nuttall

A PRISON officer has told of her amazement at being confronted by a giant cat while driving through the Suffolk countryside.

The mysterious sighting, in a country lane in Shingle Street, near Woodbridge, has left Heidi Hawley completely baffled - and locals questioning whether they have their own Black Shuck on their hands.

Mrs Hawley, who works as a prison officer at Warren Hill jail at Hollesley, was driving to work just before 8am on Easter Sunday when she saw what she thought was a large Alsatian dog run out in front of her.

The 42-year-old, from Kesgrave, stopped because she thought it may have been an escaped pet but when it clambered up a steep bank and turned around, she found herself staring into the eyes of a huge dark and fawn-coloured cat.

“I have never seen such a big massive cat before unless it's been in a zoo,” she said.

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“It turned round and stopped and looked at me. It was beautiful but the size of it scared me.

“It had great big eyes and I was taken aback at how large it was.

“I was really excited about seeing it because I've never seen anything like it before but I was frightened about getting out of the car.”

Mrs Hawley said the animal was the size of a large dog and disappeared after a few minutes into thick undergrowth when she called her husband to tell him what had happened.

“I reversed back to the end of the road to see if it had run across the field but there was nothing there.

“It was Alsatian-coloured with dark and fawn fur and its tail was coarse like an Alsatian. I wouldn't get out of the car because it was so big. If it had been a dog I would have got out.”

When Mrs Hawley arrived at work, she told her colleagues of her unusual encounter and was surprised to hear other people had reported similar sightings in the area in the past.

It is not the first time Suffolk has been linked to sightings of inexplicably large animals.

Black Shuck is the name given to a ghostly black dog with malevolent red eyes which for centuries has been said to roam the Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex countryside.

One of the most famous reports of Black Shuck is on August 4, 1577 when he is said to have torn through the congregation of St Mary's Church during a service, killing a man and a boy and leaving scorch marks on the north door of the church which can still be seen today.

Danny Bamping, founder of the British Big Cats Society, said sightings of big cats in East Anglia had definitely increased over the past two years.

“The majority seen are black although a few are brown cats which we think are pumas,” he said.

“I am sure these people have seen something extraordinary, why else would they come forward?”

n Have you seen the Hollesley big cat? Contact Danielle Nuttall on 01473 324732, or email

Breakdown of big cat sightings in East Anglia from April 2004 to July 2005:

Suffolk: 60

Norfolk: 54

Essex: 50

Cambridgeshire: 34

Source: British Big Cat Society.

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