A footballer who went to the aid of a woman was knocked out by attackers who continued assaulting him while he was unconscious on the ground.
Richie Robins, who plays in goal for non-league club Wivenhoe Town, was beaten up by a mob of young men who had been harassing a lone woman inside a night club in Colchester, Essex. Robins had intervened on her behalf and stopped the harassment.
But later the same evening the 21-year-old was attacked by what he claims was the same group, while he was waiting outside a Subway sandwich shop, near the night spot.
The University of East London student recalled the incident: "I saw the group inside a club earlier in the night, pushing a girl about because she didn't want to dance with them.
"I went over and told them to leave her alone and after a while it calmed down. Later in the night I left and was waiting for a friend outside.
"They came over again and one of them punched me. I don't remember much after that because I hit my head on the pavement and was knocked out.
"People who were watching said they carried on kicking and punching me for quite a while as I lay on the ground."
The attack caused fractures to Ritchie's eye socket and cheek bones as well as affecting his eye sight. As a result, the former Colchester Town trainee is likely to be out of action for the rest of the season. Wivenhoe Town play in the Eastern Counties League Premier division.
"It's going to keep me out of football for a while and may ruin my chances of modelling," he said.
Essex Police detective constable Seff Manesh said: "This young man had been out with his friends after returning home from university for the Christmas holiday.
"We are aware of a disturbance involving a large number of young men and are examining CCTV to establish what happened and who was involved.
"This student has sustained some very nasty-looking injuries which will affect him for the foreseeable future.
"We're looking to speak with those bystanders who saw what happened and what started the melee."
Police said the attackers were black and in their late teens or early twenties. A man was arrested in connection with the incident and released on bail.