TRIBUTES have been paid to a “devoted and fiercely loyal” family man who died following an assault.

Stephen Harrington, 47, was found seriously injured on land in Marlpit Lane, Emsworth, around 11.10am on Saturday, July 23.

He was flown by air ambulance to Southampton General Hospital, but died on Monday, July 25.

Detectives deemed the circumstances to be suspicious, and an investigation was launched.

Mr Harrington's next of kin are being supported by specialist officers as it progresses.

The Argus: Stephen HarringtonStephen Harrington

In a statement released by Sussex Police, Stephen’s family said: “Stephen, our son, brother, husband, father, nephew, uncle, and dear friend, was taken from us in a cruel and brutal way on July 23.

“His death has left us all devastated and heartbroken, with a hole in our lives that can never be filled.

“Stephen was a loving, doting father that prized every moment he spent with his daughter.

"He was hard-working and a devoted husband to his wife. Stephen’s love for his mother and sisters was unwavering and clear for all to see.

"He loved and is loved by all his nieces, nephews and aunties, who will always miss Uncle Steve. 

“He was a fiercely loyal and fun friend. If you ever needed him for anything, all you had to do was ask and he would be there.

“We are all going to have to learn to live with never seeing his smile, hearing his laugh, or just spending time with him again.

“If anyone has any information that can help get justice for Stephen, please find it in your hearts to come forward – if not for our family, do it for the kind and loving man who will never see his daughter grow up or walk her down the aisle. Do it for Stephen.”

Joseph Butler, 22, of Priors Leaze Lane, Hambrook, Chichester; Tarin Hopkins, 20, of Common Road, Hambrook, Chichester; and Thomas Goldring, 20, of no fixed address have been charged with murder.

They appeared before Crawley Magistrates’ Court on Monday, where they were remanded in custody to appear at Portsmouth Crown Court tomorrow.

Detectives continue to appeal for any witnesses to come forward, particularly anyone who may have seen any unusual or suspicious behaviour in the vicinity of Marlpit Lane from Friday evening, July 22, to Saturday morning, July 23.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police online or by calling 101 quoting Operation Bridport. Alternatively, information can be passed to police anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.