The latest Beast of Trowbridge photo is a Hoax

Beast of Trowbridge?
The latest photo of the Beast of Trowbridge

Some of my fellow Wiltshire residents have been very, very naughty people and I am not amused. The Wiltshire Times recently broke the story that the legendary Beast of Trowbridge had recently been spotted in Winsley by a couple who were out walking. The beast is thought to be some type of a big cat – a puma or panther. It has been seen in various areas in and around Trowbridge, the county town of Wiltshire, over a number of years and is quite an interesting social phenomenon if nothing else. I can remember the early reports of the Beast that originated from the village of Hilperton (where I grew up) that sits on the outskirts of Trowbridge. I grew up having bad dreams about the beast being on the prowl nearby, and this is why I am always interested when the legend raises its head each time.

The Wiltshire Times story about the most recent sighting of the Beast reports

A Winsley couple had quite a shock when they encountered the infamous beast of Trowbridge on Saturday morning. Herbert and Doreen Smith were walking in Murhill Woods, at around 10.30am, when they spotted the big black cat.

Down the years, the creature, which has been described as being a puma or a panther, has been spotted in Trowbridge, Staverton and Westbury Leigh amongst others places. Mr Smith, 71, who lives in Winsley, said: “Our first impression was sheer astonishment, we really could not believe our eyes at what we were seeing. The animal was eating what we believe it had just caught.

Winsley is very close to where I live and even closer to where I work, so I was extremely interested in this sighting. The photo that was attached to the story (as seen at the top of this post) shows a dark coloured animal with a long curved tail, it’s head bent towards the ground as though it is eating or sniffing something, just as Mr Smith reported. However, my initial thoughts were that this was some sort of dog – a German or Belgian Shepherd perhaps, that had been misidentified. I haven’t been able to really look into this though because I have been busy preparing for a talk I am delivering in Stockholm next week.

However, thanks to the detective work of John Nuttall of the Lancashire Anomalous Phenomena Investigation Society (LAPIS) I don’t have to do any digging because he has cracked this case wide open.

The photograph wasn’t even taken in Winsley… hell, it wasn’t even taken in the United Kingdom and is, in fact. a still from a trail cam set up in Lapeer County, Michigan to try and observe Cougars in the wild there. It would seem that Herbert and Doreen Smith have saved a copy of this photo, added a fake date stamp to it, and made up a back story to go along with it.

Original source of the photo
Gee. That looks familiar…

I don’t know if Mr & Mrs Smith even exist, I don’t know the details of how they reported this to The Wiltshire Times, and I don’t know the motivations behind hoaxing such a sighting – for a laugh, perhaps? Or maybe just because they could? Either way, it’s a pretty crap thing to do. I will chase this up with The Wiltshire Times on Monday morning to see if they will run a follow up story on this hoax.


About Hayley Stevens 442 Articles
Hayley is a ghost geek and started to blog in 2007. She uses scientific scepticism to investigate weird stuff and writes about it here while also speaking publicly about how to hunt ghosts as a skeptic.

11 Comments on The latest Beast of Trowbridge photo is a Hoax

  1. Smith, there’s a clue! But how sad, because the media I am sure hopped right on this story, it’s “too good” not to run! I wonder if the “it’s a hoax” story will get as much media attention? (no). However, Hayley if you want to be sure, I suggest you dose yourself in catnip when walking around where you live. If you one day disappear we’ll know to blame the beast.

  2. It was me who made this hoax. The reason why I did it is because I want a job in the media. I used psychology and misdirection to convince people it was true. The Wiltshire Times reporter Craig was very keen to get this story from me, even though they believed I was in New Zealand visiting family. I used many forms of persuasion and created an element of trust, because seriously Herbert and Doreen Smith sound like grandparents and everybody loves their grandparents. I never acted with bad intentions, as it isn’t my fault the media acted before they thought and on the plus side, it has put Trowbridge on the map for the mean time and that can only be good for the local economy.

    • I don’t buy that you’re the real hoaxer, but I want to address your comments. May I make the polite suggestion that if you want a job in the media you gain it through having useful media skills? I’m not entirely sure that you convinced anyone that this was true because the day after it broke the majority of the paranormal research community had busted the case as a hoax. If you look in the comment sections of any news website that ran this you will see only comments from people saying that this is not a big cat.

      Also, if you want a job in the media you would surely know how modern journalism works, and that they aren’t going to spend time fact checking a story like this sadly. You may not have acted with bad intentions, however, these kind of stories an stunts scare people. They make people think a wild big cat is on the loose nearby and that they may be in danger. That they should alter the things they do in case the bump into it.

  3. Hayley, I am the person who did this. You suggest people may of been sacred? Well obviously I had that in mind that is why I chose a picture that would cause speculation. 95% of the people who read the article said it was a dog. If you want to speak with Gary Lawrence from the Wiltshire Times, he will confirm it as true. I originally posted the story with the name Erb Smith and he posted it to twitter to see what reaction it would get. Either way though, I will make a name for myself and someone will like what i’ve done. It is also getting you hits on your site, or else you wouldn’t of covered the story.

    • I write common sense p.o.v’s to nonsense stories spread by people with nothing more to contribute to society. Next…

    • I imagine learning to use spelling and grammar checking functions might be useful next steps in your journalism career.

  4. Oh Hayley i see you still are taking the moral high ground. I haven’t saw you since school and was just looking for a way to break the ice as i’m still not the most confident person. The hoaxer is actually a youtuber who did it to get their channel attention. I wont waste my time getting back in touch with you coz i see you have not changed.

  5. Hi guys, Craig, from the Wiltshire Times here. We are doing a follow up this week and ‘Herbert’ if you want to have a chat about the hoax please drop me a line on 01225 773643 as this has obviously got people talking across the country.

  6. I don’t know why people fixate on ‘black panthers’ – maybe it’s because they see them in movies, but melanistic big cats are, although photogenic so they get cast in movies and TV, the exception – there are no known solid black cougars – this is a house cat – a cougar has a much larger head to body ratio.

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