Although the Killer Clown craze seemed to disappear just as fast as it arrived, it seems that something even more worrying is about to take its place – KILLER SANTAS!

Earlier this evening, Southend News Network received a number of emails and tweets from members of the public to say that there had been ‘ugly scenes’ at a one-day grotto in Southend Town Centre. It turns out that the ‘Meet Santa’ event in Prittlewell Plaza had been set up by pranksters looking to scare hundreds of kids and their parents by getting everyone in a festive room only for an axe-wielding maniac Father Christmas to jump out while screaming obscenities and threatening to behead his elves.

It turns out that the ‘Meet Santa’ event in Prittlewell Plaza had been set up by pranksters looking to scare hundreds of kids and their parents by getting everyone in a festive room only for an axe-wielding maniac Father Christmas to jump out while screaming obscenities and threatening to behead his elves.

Maisie Crystal took her three-year-old daughter Aztec to the event on Sunday afternoon, and she told our Chief Reporter that she had never been as scared or angry in her whole life.

She added: ‘Santa walked onto the stage with a sack full of presents, but it soon became clear that every single gift box was dripping with blood. He asked one little boy what he wanted for Christmas, and when he replied ‘A Hatchimal’ he said: ‘They’re impossible to get hold of, but I could promise to not chop you up into tiny little pieces on Christmas Eve. Did I mention that I am a compulsive liar?’

A few hours later, a representative of the Southend CCTV Control Centre confirmed that there had been 23 separate sightings of so-called Killer Santas around Southend alone, with hundreds of similar incidents being reported by other police forces around the country.

We caught up with one Killer Santa near Thorpe Bay Beach, and he told us that the new online craze is ‘perfect’ because nobody would ever suspect that a Father Christmas would actually be off his nut and looking to murder people.

He added: ‘It’s all a bit of fun anyway. That killer clown thing got really boring really quickly as everyone knew exactly what to look out for. However, Killer Santas is a fantastic idea because over the festive period around 95% of them will be ‘normal,’ which means that every parent is playing Killer Santa Roulette.’

‘Some of these chancers aren’t even CRB checked anyway, which makes it even more worrying if they have a penchant for knee sitting. Hopefully the real criminals will just get Saint Nicked anyway.’