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Club's tribute to dead player

Forensic examination in West Street, Rottingdean Photo: Eddie Mitchell

A talented teenage footballer who was killed during an argument in the street has been described as a "wonderful person" with a "lovely nature". Peacehaven and Telscombe Football Club released a statement paying tribute to 19-year-old team member Connor Saunders following his death this morning.

Mr Saunders, of Downsway, Woodingdean, Brighton, is believed to have received a forceful punch during an altercation between two groups of people in West Street, Rottingdean, East Sussex, between 10.30pm and 10.55pm yesterday, Sussex Police said.

He was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, but died earlier today, a force spokeswoman added.

Two boys aged 14 and one aged 13 who were originally arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm have now been arrested on suspicion of murder and remain in police custody, she said.

Today a spokesman for the football club said: "It was with incredible sadness we learned this morning that Connor Saunders, 19, had died following an attack yesterday evening.

"We have all lost a wonderful person and talented footballer. Connor has many friends because of his lovely nature and his loss is tragic to everyone connected to our club, his friends and family.

"The club is currently in a state of shock. Our condolences go to all the family and we would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult time."

Detective Chief Inspector Nick May, from Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, who is leading Operation Markby, said:

"Sadly a young man has now died following a serious assault in Rottingdean last night. Our thoughts are with the family at what is an incredibly difficult time for them. Officers will be in the Rottingdean area to speak with local residents and anyone who may be concerned about the incident. An area of West Street is cordoned off to help us with our investigation and residents and visitors to Rottingdean today have been very understanding of the reasons around this. I'd like to thank them for their continued patience and support. We are still working to establish the full circumstances of the incident. At the moment we believe that an altercation has taken place between two groups in West Street."

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Sussex Police on 101 quoting Operation Markby, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.

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