Fishy find sparks alert
SHIVERING with fear, Louise Bawley clutched the policeman's arm as they edged towards the mysterious figure in the water.Her son and nephew watched from the car, waiting for the grisly discovery on the banks of the River Orwell.
By Jonathan Barnes
SHIVERING with fear, Louise Bawley clutched the policeman's arm as they edged towards the mysterious figure in the water.
Her son and nephew watched from the car, waiting for the grisly discovery on the banks of the River Orwell.
They had spotted the "body" as they parked up to finish some takeaway food on their way home from a cinema trip to Ipswich on Wednesday night. Stranger still, it looked like a mermaid.
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"We had driven under the Orwell Bridge and parked up in a layby," said Mrs Bawley, 42.
"It was dark but I could see this figure, lying half on the embankment and half in the water.
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"I could see a head with hair and I said to the boys: 'I don't want to scare you, but that looks like a body.'
"We put the car headlights on and edged towards it, and we could see an arm and a tail. I called the police and told them: 'I think we've found a mermaid'. They told me to keep the boys in the car and they were on their way."
Police arrived at the scene, beside the B1456 at Wherstead, within minutes and Mrs Bawley, from Stutton, left her son Will, 14, and nephew Sam Hall, 12, in the safety of the car to join the investigation at about 8.30pm.
"I held on to the policeman's arm as we went towards it and he kicked the body over. It was a woman's figure in full glory, completely life-size, with a tail. Bits of it were coming off.
"I still wasn't sure what it was at first but we found it was this beautifully painted mermaid model, made out of papier mache. It could have been washed up but I don't know why it was there."
The mystery partially solved, Pc Ben Coombes lifted the figure out of the water and it is now back on dry land at Capel St Mary Police Station.
"I called back the police control room and told them: 'It was a mermaid – but not a real one," said Mrs Bawley, a pre-school worker.
"It sounds absolutely hysterical, I know, but at the time it was extremely scary and I had two very scared boys.
"My 14-year-old was trying to be extremely cool about it, but he wouldn't let me go out of the car when we saw it. If it was a hoax, someone had gone to a lot of trouble to do it."
A spokeswoman for Suffolk police said officers reported the figure had looked "very realistic". She added that if any had information about the mermaid or its owner, they should contact Pc Coombes on 01473 613500.