Barbecue surprise for woman with snake phobia

A woman with a phobia of snakes was horrified to open her barbecue and find one curled up inside.

Sheila Rogers, 62, looked into her gas grill to find a 2ft long corn snake looking back at her.

Mrs Rogers, who suffers from a fear of snakes - or ophidiophobia - ran inside her bungalow in Shurdington, near Cheltenham and called police.

She said a welfare officer took three hours to arrive, by which time she and neighbour Jack Jewitt, in his 80s, had resorted to cornering the snake with a washing basket.

Mr Jewitt threw the basket over the reptile and tipped it into a plant pot held bravely by Mrs Rogers.

The pair then put a saucer over the pot, held down with a car battery, assuming it was a baby python.

Mrs Rogers said she had been getting the barbecue ready for a family gathering on Saturday afternoon when she saw the creature.

She told the Gloucestershire Echo: "It was horrid and I was petrified. I thought it was plastic and my kids had played a joke.

"I was going to brain them as I have a phobia about snakes, inherited from my mother."

The RSPCA identified it as a harmless cornsnake and said it was probably an escaped pet.