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Mystery person in Black Death plague costume ‘terrifying’ community

PUBLISHED: 10:56 29 April 2020 | UPDATED: 17:21 29 April 2020

Picture of person walking around Hellesdon in plague outfit. PIC: Fiona Fahy on the Hellesdon Life and Events Group on Facebook.

Picture of person walking around Hellesdon in plague outfit. PIC: Fiona Fahy on the Hellesdon Life and Events Group on Facebook.

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Police are hunting a person who has been walking around a Norwich suburb in a “terrifying” plague outfit.

Officers want to provide “words of advice” to the individual, who has been seen in the Hellesdon area during the coronavirus lockdown dressed in a black coat, hat and pointed beak-like mask.

The sighting has prompted both alarm and amusement on social media.

It is thought the person has been dressing this way for about two weeks for their daily walk, with a photograph posted on the Hellesdon Life and Events group on Facebook.

One person wrote: “Scared the life out of my missus. Terrifying for kids.”

Danny Buck, a historian at the University of East Anglia, who spotted the picture, posted about the individual on Twitter, saying “the police believe local residents are finding it disturbing”.

Jade Gosbell, 21, took a photograph of the person walking across a recreation ground in Hellesdon.

“It was like 20 degrees, he was wearing a full black suit, it just looked ridiculous,” she said.

“It’s clearly for attention or something like that, because normal people just wouldn’t do that.”

The furloughed gym worker continued: “I was sitting there and I was getting angry myself as my mum has a phobia of masks.

“I know that even in daylight if she was to go round the corner and bump into him she would be so scared.

“Kids would be frightened, my mum would be frightened, however some people really don’t think it’s that deep, they just think that he’s having a laugh, he’s just trying to find something to do with himself during isolation and lockdown.”

She said she has not seen the person since a Facebook post drew attention to them, adding: “I was told that if I see him again to call the police.”

A Norfolk Police spokesperson said: “Officers have been made aware of an individual who was seen walking around the Hellesdon area wearing a plague outfit.

“Although no offences have been committed at this time, officers are keen to trace the individual in order to provide words of advice about the implications of his actions on the local community.

Should any further information come forward about any offences being committed, we will act accordingly.”

The costume is like that worn by doctors treating those with the Black Death in the belief the mask acted as a filter against the disease.

And while there has been concern at the sighting, there are also those who have come to the defence of the individual.

One person tweeted: “Are they doing anything wrong, or just going about their business in a plague dr costume?” before adding: “Surely they are being extra-responsible by wearing a full face mask?”

Another tweeted: “Snitches get the plague”.

Someone else on social media tweeted: “Since when is the costume illegal?”

There was also support from another person on social media, who tweeted: “Oh my God. This is the thread I’ve been waiting all lockdown to come across. Thank you so much for this.”


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