Ollie the otter has been found dead deep in a hedge beside Cliff Lane - just yards from Ipswich's Holywells Park where he had delighted visitors over recent weeks.

Reports that the otter had been killed in a road accident at the start of the week started to emerge on Wednesday, but rangers had not been able to find a body and hoped they were wrong.

His death was reported to both the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and to Ipswich council which owns and manages the park but nothing definite was found.

There were hopes that Ollie had moved on, possibly to find a mate, but today came the sad news that his body had been found near the road and collected by the Environment Agency.

It has been sent to the  University of Cardiff which studies otters - and a post mortem should give invaluable clues about its lifestyle.

The owner of Bishops Cafe in the park, Jon Shappcott, confirmed that the photographic competition he ran for visitors who took a picture of Ollie would now be a memorial event.

He said: "That's a great shame. He brought a lot of people into the park - people who had never been in here before.

"I couldn't believe people who lived locally told us they had never been here before until Ollie turned up. This news is very sad from that point of view too.

"But there's a lot of other wildlife to see around here. There are lots of muntjac and other things like that which are good to come and look for."

A spokeswoman for the borough council said everyone had been keeping their fingers crossed that Ollie was all right - the rangers' had now seen pictures that proved he had met an untimely death on the road.