Video: Louth couple who spotted Essex ‘lion’ speak to the Leader

A LOUTH couple helped spark off a huge police search for a ‘lion’ on the loose in Essex.

Steve Atkin and wife Gill were holidaying near Clacton on Sea in Essex at the weekend when a neighbour knocked on their caravan window and pointed them towards a large cat sat in a nearby field.

Amazed, Steve and Gill took pictures of what he saw which featured in the national media as the police search got underway.

The story then went viral, with national newspapers and websites reporting sightings of a ‘large cat’ in the area around the resort and police warning people to stay indoors.

Steve told the Leader: “I got some binoculars but I didn’t need them really, it was close enough to be seen with the naked eye.

“There’s no doubt in my mind it was a very large cat, as big as two sheep, we looked at it for a good 20 minutes.

“It’s ridiculous that some papers have said it was something like a tabby cat, I know what I saw.

“The media coverage has been unbelievable, we never expected this from our caravan holiday!”

Essex Police said firearms officers and experts from Colchester Zoo had helped with the search, and the zoo and a nearby circus said there were no escapees. A police spokesman said: “We believe what was seen on Sunday evening was either a large domestic cat or a wildcat.”

Watch the video to see the couple telling their story and taking a look at their own pictures splashed across national newspaper front pages.