A COUPLE turned detectives after their prized Koi Carp collection started disappearing in the dead of night.

David and Julie Latta had more than 70 fish in the pond of their garden in Braiswick, Colchester.

But when they began to discover half eaten carp in their garden, they knew something had set its eyes on the fish.

David said: “It started back in September. We had about 75 fish in our pond.

“The first we knew something wasn’t right was when we found two or three fish outside of the pond half eaten.

“We thought the heron was back as we had, had a number of heron attacks.

“At that point I put up some fishing wire as herons tend to wade in from the side.”

But to David and Julie’s surprise, this wasn’t the end of the case and fish continued to disappear in the night.

David said: “The next week we found some more fish outside the pond half eaten and I though ‘This is strange’.

“With 70 fish in the pond it can be difficult to notice.”

The couple, who run Crofton Cattery, put on their detective caps and set up an infrared camera to catch the culprit.

David: “The first time it was set off by my stepson going off to work in the morning.

“Then it got a fox running round the garden.”

Then one night an otter was spotted on camera jumping into the pond and having a midnight snack.

“I really didn’t think it would be possible,” David said.

“We are up in Braiswick and it is not exactly close to the river.

“I didn’t think we’d see an otter coming up Baker’s Lane and into our garden.

“I started to put up chicken wire around the pond but the otter just pushed his way through.”


  • The pond before the fence had to be put up

David and Julie decided more action was needed to stop the otter enjoying his fish supper before he decimated all the carp.

So David decided to seek help from the Otter Trust and put up a electric fence around the pond.

Since then the otter has not been spotted in the garden.

And David said he hopes he can find a solution before the summer so he can take down the fence.

The couple, who started adding fish to the pond 20 years ago, are now down to just 18 Koi Carp.


  • Culprit - an otter was caught on cameras diving into the pond

David added: “Now many of them have been nibbled with bits of their fins removed.”

David and Julie set up their cattery in the summer after being inspired by their own moggies Ralph and Flossie.

Julie is a former nurse while David previously owned newsagents in High Street and Crouch Street before selling them on and has spent the past few years raising his children.