Beast of Sedgemoor 'proof'|Ed Malone||08/29/06 at 13:05:09|obadiah|xx|0||CONCLUSIVE proof that the "Beast of Sedgemoor" once roamed around

Bridgwater may finally have been un-earthed by the Mercury.

Stawell couple Les and Juliet Helps this week recounted the moment
when they saw the black panther-like creature as it stalked its prey
near their home on the Polden Hills.

And the chance recording of the incident on a hand-held camera by
their son, Chris, 15 years ago could be the only time the mysterious
beast has been caught on film.

Les said: "My son was filming a vixen with her cubs in the field
behind our house and we saw this black thing come out of the trees.

"We could hear the vixen screaming at this animal to try and get it
away from her cubs - it was a terrible noise.

"We could see it was a cat of some sort and about the size of a
Labrador with a big tail. It began circling around the vixen with its
lashing tail and looked ready to attack."

The whole sequence was saved on Betamax video before being transferred
onto VHS. The quality of picture has suffered because of the transfer
but the image of the big cat can still be made out.

In the two-minute sequence, seen by the Mercury, a large black
creature with a long tail can be seen in a stand-off with the vixen.

Unfortunately, a still image of the tape was not available at the time
of going to press.

The quest for concrete evidence of the Beast's existence began two
weeks ago when a team of researchers from Channel Five's Big Cat
Search appealed for Mercury readers to contact them if they had seen
the animal prowling around the area.

Mark James said the response from Bridgwater had been "brilliant" and
gave the team some important leads in the making of the programme. He
said: "We went to Cornwall to film for three days last week and when
we returned we had ten messages on our hotline, all of which were
sightings in the Bridgwater area. The response was brilliant, thank
you very much to everyone who contacted us."

Earlier this month, Mervyn Slocombe revealed that he saw a wild cat at
Enmore Park Golf Club in 1992 and a number of other callers have
contacted the Mercury to share their experiences.

Anyone who sees what they think is a big cat can ring a designated
hotline on 0870-3339083 or visit the website at catsearch.

Any who believes they have seen the animal should also tell the
Mercury newsroom by emailing our reporters at newsdesk@bridgwater

Bridgwater Mercury 29/8/06||