A murder investigation has been launched after a man was battered to death with a shovel in front of his parents in a motorway service station cafe.

The "horrifying" daylight attack saw the 20-year-old victim attacked by two men at Cobham Services on the M25 at around 3.15pm on Monday (26 June).

After sustaining "substantial" head injuries, he was flown to St George's Hospital in Tooting by air ambulance, but died on Wednesday.

He was named locally as Quhey Saunders of Stanford-le-Hope, Essex. Friends paid tribute on social media, describing him as a "lovely boy".

His girlfriend, Larosa Smith, wrote on Facebook: "He wasn't just my boyfriend he was my best friend my full life I'm so lost without him."

The two suspects are still being sought by police having fled the scene in a white van, which was later found abandoned six miles away in Chessington.

An army veteran witnessed the attack as he was filling his car up at the service station.

"I don't know what started it, but there were lots of vicious punches and kicks being thrown," retired soldier Rafael Francis, 53, told the Evening Standard.

"They were shouting about getting a gun, that's when I tried to get involved."

Francis then said he saw one of the suspects grab a shovel from the back of their van and aim vicious blows at the victim's head.

The former Queen's Regiment soldier then helped the victim's father stem the blood from his injuries.

"His mother kept asking me if I thought the boy was going to make it, I couldn't look her in the eye. There was just too much blood," he said.

"Until the police came no-one else tried to help. Everyone was filming it on their phones, even as I'm begging for a first aid kit people are just looking through their cameras."

Disturbing footage of the aftermath of the attack shows the young man receiving first aid from police as he lies unresponsive on the cafe floor.

A woman – believed to be his mother – can be heard screaming for him to be helped in the background.

One witness told The Sun the attack may have started as a row over the victim's parking.

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The scene at Cobham M25 service station following the attack YouTube/UKNewsInPictures

Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Jo Hayes said: "This was a horrifying attack at a busy petrol station on the M25, and I am sure that there are people who saw what happened but have not yet spoken to my officers.

"This is now a murder investigation, and we are pursuing all avenues of enquiry to bring those responsible to justice.

"I would like to speak to everyone who refuelled at the petrol station, or visited the shop, between 3pm and 3.30pm on Monday 26 June.

"In particular there is a man shown in the store on CCTV wearing military or camouflage clothing who could have very valuable information for the investigation. If this person is you, please come forward.

"There are reports of people filming on mobile phones during the altercation, and immediately afterwards, and it is imperative that we get hold of their footage. There were vehicles on the forecourt during the fight, and I want to speak to those drivers, and view any dashcam footage they may have.

"Finally, although we have recovered the van, we still need to piece together its movements. The van is described as a white Peugeot Partner Van, registration NX63 VLP, with a roof rack and ladder strapped to the roof. If you saw the van between 3.30pm on Monday and 10am this morning, or have information about the driver and their whereabouts, please contact us as a matter of urgency."


Anyone with any information is asked to call Surrey Police on 101 or report it online at http://report.police.uk, quoting 45170068211. You can also report any information you may have to the independent charity Crimestoppers in complete anonymity by calling 0800 555 111.