FOOTAGE of a mystery beast in a paddock could be the best evidence yet of a big cat at large in Cheshire.

Frodsham resident Chris Bebbington captured a black big cat sprinting across their paddock on his CCTV completely by chance.

The motion-activated camera was set off when he and his wife Wendy were working in the garden, which overlooks the paddock.

Later, he found a dead chicken in the middle of the field.

Just last month, a Latchford resident reported a big cat seen in Latchford near the swing bridge.

Chris thought that the camera might have picked something up to explain the find - but he was shocked by what he saw.

The footage, about three seconds in, shows a mysterious black animal carrying the chicken in its mouth enter from the top right. It then drops it before sprinting across the paddock.

The animal appears in the footage for about 15 seconds.

Footage of a large black creature was caught on CCTV by Chris and Wendy Bebbington of Frodsham

Footage of a large black creature was caught on CCTV by Chris and Wendy Bebbington of Frodsham

Chris says visiting foxes and badgers have set off he cameras, but this animal looks like something else.

He said: "It was mid morning and as I was looking out the back I could see something on the paddock. I thought it was a bit of rubbish that was blown over, but I went out and it was a dead chicken. I could see something had had it but it was intact. It looked a bit strange. Later on I wondered if the CCTV footage had caught anything. I went back through the footage for that day. We'd been in the garden early and we'd initiated the camera to start rolling. I focussed in where the chicken body was and I saw this animal come in from the right. I was intrigued by how big it was and also how it moved - it moves slowly and then all of a sudden goes really, really quickly. I think that, whatever it was, for the first part of the run it had the chicken in its mouth.

"A fox set the camera off about a week later. You couldn't see it very well but it moved very differently from this animal.

"It looked black, whatever it was. It looked big and it moved fast. It was quite a long way away, but I'd say it was the size of a Labrador or something like that."

Wendy thinks the creature was startled by the noise made when she closed the rabbit hutch in the garden.

The video footage captured at 6.20am seems to support this.

Chris says he doesn't know what the animal is, but that he has been told by his neighbour that seven or eight chickens have been taken in recent weeks.

He added that a report from Cheshire Police back in saying a "larger predator" was responsible for an attack on sheep near Sutton Weaver in December has made him believe a big cat could be out there.

Tony Jones, of Puma Watch North Wales, said the video was "one of the best we've had".

He founded the group to investigate reports of big cat sightings in North Wales - but says he is now getting reports of encounters in Cheshire. These include sightings in Chester, Ellesmere Port, and Warrington.

He added: "Multiple sightings have also occurred in Chester in recent months, including when a similar animal was caught on camera in Chester Meadows and when one animal was spotted twice in the same night behind Asda.

"Cheshire Police announced they were investigating whether “a larger predator” was responsible for a series of sheep killings, saying that “a large, black-cat type animal” had been spotted nearby.

"When big cats were banned as pets in the 1970s, it was legal to release them into the countryside to avoid expensive rehoming costs. Owners from across the UK travelled to areas like Wales to release their cats in the remote environment, where small but significant populations have thrived ever since."