A police officer visited Thameside Junior and Infant school, in Manor Road, and informed bemused staff he was investigating a sighting of a big cat on the premises that morning.
The sighting had been reported at 8am by builder Graham Bowers, 61, from Grays, who said the cat, sitting on the school bins sunning itself, was about three foot long from nose to tail.The school know the ‘big cat’ well.
Head teacher Christine Pumfrey, who was in the school at the time, said they were not concerned, after the panic about a lioness on the loose in Clacton on Sunday night turned out to caused by a large domestic cat.
She said: “A very nice police officer turned up at the school and explained they’d had reports of a lion on the premises.
“We weren’t worried because we knew the sighting in Clacton had turned out to be nothing.
“The officer was very calm and professional, and told us he had been involved in the Clacton search.
“He did a search of the school grounds and found a normal domestic cat, it was definitely not a lion.
“We know the cat in question, it’s always around the school and is no bigger than a normal cat.”Essex Police – for once, perhaps as a result of the embarrassing Clacton debacle – were a little waspish:
A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We were contacted at 8am on Tuesday following reports that a large cat had been spotted in Cherry Tree Close in Grays.
“Officers arrived and found a large domestic cat. “Words of advice were issued to the informant.”Does that put an end to it? No. Of course not. This is Grays, remember?
The man who reported a lion sighting to police in Grays on Tuesday remains convinced what he saw was not a domestic cat.
Graham Bowers, 61, was with five other men in Cherry Tree Close, when he made the call to police. They all believe the cat they saw was a mountain lion or a cougar, and police, who Mr Bowers said arrived an hour after his call, did not catch a glimpse of it, and decided it must have been a large domestic cat after finding one in Thameside Junior School’s grounds.Yeeees. Your photo (in that article) is about as convincing as the last one. Which is to say, not at all...
Mr Bowers said: “There were five grown men watching this cat, including my nephew and my brother.
“We’re not stupid (Ed: I’ll admit, I lost it big time in the office, reading this bit…), we were flabbergasted at the size of this cat. “We believe it was a mountain lion or a cougar, it was too big to be a normal cat.
“It is dangerous, and could eat a small child.”Probably. It’d take it a month, mind you…
“After the first officer had gone, an armed police unit came down, and one of the officers said he had been involved in the search for the lion in Clacton.
“They showed us a picture of a normal domestic cat and said how big they can get.
“We’re not thick (Ed: Yup, that did it too…), it wasn’t what we saw.
“I thought the police were really inefficient, I was really angry.”I think they’re inefficient too. They should have shot you, and raised Gray’s collective IQ by a couple of points…
Mr Bowers said the picture was taken on his camera phone, and believes if he can get better camera with a zoom and find the cat again, it will reveal the truth.Maybe it’ll show Elvis in the background too?