A vicar has told how he found a 'badly hurt' man in the grounds of his church, minutes before he was due to carry out a Sunday service.
Reverend Christopher Fuller made the discovery at St Hilda's Church, in Market Place, South Shields, at about 10am today.
He revealed what had happened after the Gazette was contacted by readers about a police cordon which was set up around the church earlier today.
Rev Fuller said: "I found him at 10am. He had been badly hurt to the extent that I needed to call an ambulance.
"I have no idea of how severe his injuries were. His head had been injured.
"I was able to ask him if he was all right, but he didn't appear to be lucid enough to give me a straight answer.
"I just waited for the authorities to come, which they did within five or six minutes.
"It happened just before I was due to take a service, and in the end I had to leave the authorities to it."
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: "A gentleman who was possibly intoxicated has been seen on CCTV falling over."