Sussex

Vigil for Connor Saunders held at scene of Rottingdean attack

Connor Saunders
Image caption Connor Saunders died after he was assaulted in West Street, Rottingdean, on Saturday night

A candlelit vigil has been held in memory of a teenager from Sussex who died in hospital after being punched.

Connor Saunders, 19, of Downsway, Woodingdean, was attacked during a clash between two groups in West Street, Rottingdean, on Saturday night.

A statement read by his uncle, Jamie Denyer, to family and friends gathered at the scene on Monday night described him as "an angel on earth".

Police are questioning two 14-year-old boys arrested on suspicion of murder.

A 13-year-old boy also arrested has been released on police bail until 8 May.

Mr Saunders, who played for Peacehaven and Telscombe Football Club, was attacked when two groups clashed between 22:30 and 22:55 BST.

'Gift from God'

A post-mortem examination carried out on Monday showed he died from injuries consistent with trauma to the head.

Det Ch Insp Nick May said: "Exactly why this incident took place is still unclear.

"There has been some speculation that this may have been two gangs of youths confronting each other.

"We do not believe that this was the case. This appears to have been two groups of people who met each other while walking through Rottingdean and have exchanged words."

Addressing those gathered to pay tribute to his nephew, Mr Denyer said "life without him would never be the same again".

"It's left a hole that will never ever be filled, but we sometimes just have to admit that angels are needed back in heaven after gracing earth with their presence and Connor certainly fits into that bracket."

In a statement from his parents read to the mourners, Mr Saunder's mother said she had lost her "gift from God".

His father, who is first team manager at the Sussex County League football club where his son played, described him as "my gentle giant and my hero who never had a bad bone in his body".

"Time will never heal the pain... our lives have been completely shattered," he said.

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