A second woman has told of her shock at coming face to face with what is believed to be a black panther on the loose.

Jenny Ward was packing up her Astra estate last Saturday morning when 16-year-old son Jason spotted what he thought was a "great black fox" 40ft behind her on a footpath.

Turning round, Mrs Ward locked eyes with a black cat "bigger than a golden retriever" which stared at the stunned pair before crouching and disappearing into woodland.

The path, which runs beside Mrs Ward’s house in Church Street, Sible Hedingham, leads across the countryside to Finchingfield, where a black cat was spotted on the same day.

See this week's Halstead Gazette for more.