SPECULATION that a big black panther-like creature is roaming the countryside continued this week with more people reporting sightings.

Doris and Philip Jennings of Pine Avenue, Glynswood, Chard, say they saw a big cat at around 10pm on November 14.

Mrs Jennings was saying goodbye to her two daughters who had parked in the driveway of her home and "the next thing I know this thing charged past me," she said. "It was so big and black and fast. Three leaps and it had gone.

"God knows what it was but it certainly wasn't a cat or dog. It frightened me and I can still see it now in my head."

Just a few weeks ago the News published accounts of a big cat in the area when Hinton St George man Dave Pitman told how he found in woods near his home the fresh carcass of a deer so badly mauled he was convinced it must have been the work of a wild cat.

Since then Helen Bishop of Chard, Seavington St Mary pub landlady Ruth Turner and Simon Lancaster of Ilminster have said they believe they have seen the mystery animal or found further evidence to suggest its existence.

And now Christine Sunter of Donyatt Hill says at around 9am last Friday she was looking out onto fields by her home when she thought she saw a cow grazing "but when it turned I saw its long tail and there was no mistaking what it was - a big black cat," she said. "I got a really good view of it - there is no doubt in my mind."

Michael Thurgood of Broadway told the News he saw the creature earlier this month.

"I had just driven over the Pound crossroads in Broadway travelling north along Pound Road when I clearly saw a black panther cross the road about 200 yards ahead by the cricket field," he said.

"At that distance, had it been a domestic cat, it would have been almost too small to see but this was larger than a labrador or German Shepherd and was clearly a cat from its shape and long tail."