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A man was found freezing to death in woodland after apparently being attacked and left for dead.

The victim was unconscious when he was discovered by Toby Roberts as the father-of-one took a short-cut across land near Eastbourne College.

Mr Roberts, 32, has now been hailed as a hero for saving the unnamed 22-year-old’s life.

Police are investigating whether the man, who was suffering from hypothermia and was bloody and battered when he was found, had been attacked and abandoned on the snowy ground.

Before being taken away by ambulance the man managed to whisper: “I’ve been beaten up.”

Mr Roberts, of Seaford, spotted the victim out of the corner of his eye at 8.30am on Saturday as he walked through land off Paradise Drive, Eastbourne, on the way to the gym The Prison Service employee said: “He looked terrible – like a zombie.

“He was groaning and was initially unconscious.

“I thought he was dead.”

The 32-year-old, who has a one-year-old son with fiancée Alyssa McDiarmid, continued: “He was just lying there.

I rushed over and I honestly thought he was dead. I called 999 and said they had to get there ASAP.

“They gave me instructions over the phone and at the same time I saw two women jogging in the distance so called them and they got a car to stop.

“A woman got a blanket it out the car and wrapped it around the man.

“He was so confused by this point. He was just groaning, ‘Where am I?’ “The police asked me what I thought had happened and I think he had been attacked on the golf course and thrown into the woodland.

“If I hadn’t been there it could have been too late.

“It was so cold – but I just did what anyone would do.”

Miss McDiarmid, 32, said: “He is a hero. If he had not found him it could have been so much worse.

“He really saved his life.”

A Sussex Police spokesman said the incident was referred to the force by the ambulance service at 9.10am on Saturday.

He said: “Our inquiries are at an early stage.”