A MAN found dead after being stabbed in the back looked like he was resting by the side of the road, according to a passerby.

Police have launched a murder investigation after he was discovered in Ryegate Road, Colchester, at 8.20am on Monday.

Leigh Jones, 31, was on the school run when she saw the man sitting on the floor and another woman looking distressed.

She stopped to see if she could help but said it became clear the man had died.

She said: “We were driving up the road this morning as I was on the way to drop my little one at school.

“I looked out the window and saw someone one the floor but he looked like he was peacefully resting.

“A lady was there with him and she looked white as a sheet and really distressed so we stopped the car and I got out to see what had happened.

“I approached the man and asked him if he was OK but he wasn’t responsive.

“The ambulance had clearly already been called because within minutes the paramedics turned up.

“She got the equipment out of the car but realised really quickly it was too late.

“His body was stiff and there was nothing she could do.”

Leigh then left to carry on with the school run but when she returned, police and paramedics were there blocking the road.

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Other nearby residents said they had noticed the man on the floor but had not realised he was dead. They thought he was a rough sleeper who was unconscious.

Leigh said she was stunned to learn the man had died from a stab wound to the back.

She added: “I did not notice any blood or anything like that.

“He was just sat there peacefully wearing this gilet.

“I had to leave quickly because I still had to get my son to school.”

Essex Police were called to the scene by the ambulance service.

They are appealing for anyone in the area at the time or the hours before to contact them.

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A spokesman said: “We are investigating the death of a man in Colchester.

“We were called by the ambulance service shortly after 8.20am with reports a man had been found deceased in Ryegate Road.

“He had suffered a stab wound to his back.

“Inquiries remain at an early stage and we are appealing to anyone who was in the area this morning and saw what happened, or has any information, to call the North Major Crime team on 101 quoting incident 208 of Monday.

“You can also report online at essex.police.uk/do-it-online.

Alternatively, contact the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111 or use the anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org.”

Emergency services and forensic experts congregated at the junction of Ryegate Road and Museum Street in the shadow of Colchester Castle as the investigation into the man’s death began.

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust confirmed they had attended.

He said: “An ambulance, a rapid response vehicle and an ambulance officer vehicle were called to Ryegate Road, Colchester around 8.20 this morning following reports of a man found in the road.

“Sadly, despite the best efforts of all involved, the patient had died at the scene.”