A TERRIFIED New Cross woman says she "freaked out" after seeing a panther in the street.

The woman, who was on her way to work at the time, fled back to her house and called police after seeing the beast in Southerngate Way, a residential area near Fordham Park and Deptford Green School.

But when police arrived to investigate, there was no sign of the wild animal and it is understood no panthers had been reported missing in the area.

The woman also contacted expert Neil Arnold who runs Kent Big Cat Research and has been tracking sightings across the south east.

She reported: "I was walking to work in New Cross and looked to my left and saw a long black tail hanging down from the roof that covers the bins outside our block of flats.

"I then looked up and saw the biggest black cat I have ever seen - this was no domestic cat.

"It was very built with strong large leg muscles that you could see very clearly from the rear view. It was just perched with its tail dangling down.

"I completely freaked out and ran so fast as I was the only one in the area at the time and terrified of being spotted by this animal."

She wrote: "I have reported it to the police, who checked the area and can no longer find it. They had suggested it was a large stuffed animal - I guess we can now definitely rule that out.

"I am disappointed that I wasn't taken more seriously by the local police who asked me almost straight away if I had been drinking when I first reported it.

"The point is I was a meter away it was perched just above me and it was morning so I did not see this in the dark or at some distance and it was intimidatingly big.

"The thought that it is now roaming around somewhere in the area is very scary and I am very nervous to walk home."

Mr Arnold said he was hoping to get more information on the sighting and that he was surpised nobody else had seen it in such a densely populated area.

He said: "It's interesting regarding that area because I do get sightings from Sydenham and Bromley. But New Cross, not far from the station - I just don't know why it would be there."

Mr Arnold, who has written books on strange animals in the capital, said he was aware of another recent report in Nunhead where a big cat walked into a man's house, and that the creatures could travel up to 15 miles in the night time.

He said: "They don't live anywhere so they're constantly on the move.

"In the 1960s there were lots of reports around Shooters Hill - that was a real hotspot.

"There's a deer park in Greenwich so that could be what's attracting it."

Numerous reports have been made about the so-called Beast of Sydenham.

Following a 2009 sighting, father-of-four Roger Fleming told News Shopper how he ran for his life from a giant cat near Sydenham Hill station.

The expert, who says he gets around 150 sightings each year from Kent alone, claims the cats -  normally black leopards - are descendants of pets bought by people in the 1960s from places like Harrods, which eventually made their way into the wild.

A spokeswoman for Lewisham police confirmed they had received the call at 9.02am on April 5 but no trace has been found of the creature.

Did you see the New Cross panther? Call the newsroom on 01689 885714 or email newsroom@london.newsquest.co.uk