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Driver swerves to avoid big black cat 'Beast' of Cleeve Hill

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: August 25, 2012

Big Cat report:  Kieran Bourne said he saw a  large black cat, like the one pictured above,   on Cleeve Hill

Big Cat report: Kieran Bourne said he saw a large black cat, like the one pictured above, on Cleeve Hill

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SHOCKED Kieran Bourne had a close encounter with a 'panther-like creature' as he drove on Cleeve Hill.

The 30-year-old is convinced he saw the mysterious big cat, believed to be stalking the county, looming large in his headlights as he made his way home in the early hours.

Despite being mocked by his friends and colleagues, Kieran remains convinced he nearly collided with the animal by the side of the road, swerved, and saw it dive into the bushes and disappear.

He was heading to Montpellier from Coventry Airport following a week's holiday in Spain at 1.30am on Tuesday.

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The managing director of Platinum Legal, who also manages accountancy firm Findlay James, both in Cheltenham, was so sure of what he had seen that he contacted big cat expert Frank Tunbridge.

He believes it's the same creature on the prowl, which hit the Echo's headlines when it was spotted by residents in fields near Mount View Drive, at Winchcombe, in April.

Despite Kieran's workmates' "mocking" and not having heard any previous stories of the elusive animal, Mr Bourne said this makes him even more determined to stick to his guns about what he spotted.

"It looked at me from the side of the road," he said.

"I was coming round quite a sharp bend from Winchcombe up the hill to Cleeve Hill and it was on the left hand side of the road in my main beam – I nearly hit it.

"It was the size of a slightly large dog, about 2.5ft high and about 4ft long with a U-shaped tail curled upwards. I swerved to the right to make sure I didn't hit it and it pounced into the bushes.

"Driving home it was just going around in my head.

"Admittedly I had a bit of jet lag and was tired. I did wonder if I was seeing things.

"I came into work later that day and people were mocking me, saying I was imagining it.

"But then I looked up big cat sightings on the internet and found lots of articles and Frank's details.

"I've heard stories before, but about a beast in Dartmoor, Devon. I would say what I saw was not your ordinary household cat.

"I'm now 100 per cent sure it was a big black cat, with no markings on.

"It's out there."

Big cat tracker Frank Tunbridge believes a big cat has marked out the area as its territory.

"There was a bit of a flurry some months ago when a load of Winchcombe residents saw it at the Gretton estate and we went up to put cameras up," he said.

"And over the years there's been quite a few sightings on Cleeve Hill. Obviously it's the same cat.

"It's resident in the area with quite a wide range.

"They follow territorial routes and Kieran was in the right place at the right time to see it happen.

"All his work colleagues scoffed. But I bet if I went up to the spot I'd find a hole in the hedge and regular track.

"He told me it was a big, powerful-looking animal and with one bound is was up and into the undergrowth."

The fresh sighting has prompted him to decide to set up another automatic trip camera, with a 24-hour video, in the field where it was seen in April.

"I've alerted the two people who originally saw it," he added.

"If they see it again it means this is obviously part of its route.

"I'll check it in a month as animals have to get used to an unfamiliar object in their surroundings.

"The cat won't just walk out and pose for the camera, they're very elusive and if you go looking, they know you're there."

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  • Kay_Powell  |  August 28 2012, 4:42PM

    The Essex "lion" has now been identified as a large domestic tom cat that lives nearby and is lion coloured. Given that even a large domestic cat (this one is said to be a Maine ****) will only weigh up to 11 kilos, and a lioness will weigh about 130 kilos, the essex sighting demonstates just how unreliable these sightings can be, even when they are genuine as opposed to hoaxes. I also think that the police and zoo officials in Essex must be rather easily fooled - you'd never have got me to believe that the photograph of "Teddy Bear" the Maine **** was a lion.

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  • Alfredo_  |  August 28 2012, 2:06PM

    Someone's done an awesome job of PhotoShopping the bloke and the cat in to that photo.

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  • munchy  |  August 27 2012, 8:49PM

    Tim you're obviously not a driver. Any accident must be avoided provided it does not endanger another road user.

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  • TimMessanger  |  August 27 2012, 8:31PM

    If this picture is the location where he swerved to avoid did he cross the white lines? I'm sure you're not meant to swerve to avoid a wild animal!

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  • verysceptical  |  August 27 2012, 8:16PM

    "The managing director of Platinum Legal, who also manages accountancy firm Findlay James, both in Cheltenham" ...was very grateful of the free publicity has frankly, fanciful story has granted him.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  August 27 2012, 7:03PM

    Well having seen the photo of the Essex lion, unless lions have dinky little ears and a very short neck it is definitely not a lion. In fact it looked like a very pretty domestic moggy.

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  • interociter  |  August 27 2012, 6:39PM

    The more I look at the 4th picture the more suspicious it looks, some weird processing artefacts present, it is also a strange shape for a healthy animal. It could of course be a Paranormal Lion!

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  • TimMessanger  |  August 27 2012, 6:26PM

    "Here, kitty kitty: Image of 'Essex Lion' that sparked massive police hunt is finally revealed as officers call off the search and admit sightings were probably of a 'large domestic cat' Read more: http://tinyurl.com/9yqkktx "

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  • TimMessanger  |  August 27 2012, 6:09PM

    There must be a rouge batch of drugs doing the rounds in Cleve and Essex!

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  • spindles12  |  August 27 2012, 5:49PM

    The "lion" appears to be able to change sex at will. One National newspaper website has a quote:- Van driver Rick said: "It is a male lion, the size of three Great Danes. A bloke came running, shouting, 'It's a bloomin' lion'. A video report on the same website shows an interview with a couple and the woman was adamant it was a female lion and she had watched it for about twenty minutes - unfortunately not enough time to get a decent camera with a zoom lens that could have given a very clear photograph or even video of the "creature" moving. If the "lion" really is as big as three Great Danes then there probably wouldn't have been any need for a zoom lens anyway. There's nothing in the domestic cat world that remotely resembles a male lion, presuming the van driver is going by the lion's huge mane and not something at the other end, so the only explanation is that there are TWO lions, one male, one female - quick declare a state of emergency in Clacton! It could, of course, be a way of drumming up extra visitors to the area as we all know by now that resorts are having a hard time of it because of the bad weather, after all, if Loch Ness can do it then so can Clacton.

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