Friends of a man who was found dead after a late night attack have described him as “the life and soul of work”.

Grandfather Paul Lawrence was found lifeless in the street on January 28.

The 51-year-old is believed to have died from a head injury and a murder investigation was launched.

Mr Lawrence, a plumber and gas engineer, was said to have been heading back from Littlehampton Trades and Labour Club to his mother’s house in Gladonian Road, Littlehampton, where he was attacked and left for dead.

A 16-year-old boy from the town was arrested on suspicion of murder but was released on bail.

The Argus: A tent and police cordon in Gladonian Road, LittlehamptonA tent and police cordon in Gladonian Road, Littlehampton (Image: Sussex News and Pictures)

Colleagues who worked with Mr Lawrence at Stocker and Sons in West Chiltington, near Pulborough, said he will be “sorely missed by everyone at the firm”.

Workmate Matt Clayton, 37, said: “It was heart breaking. It didn’t sink in until Monday morning when you come to work. I still expected Paul to walk up the stairs. That was the realisation.

“The mood was very down at that point. You would always hear his laugh from a mile away. We realised that wasn’t coming any more.

“Paul was the life and soul of work, he would be the one on a Monday morning that you would search for. He was the most bubbly there. I have never seen Paul in a bad mood or down, he was the jokey one who would lighten your day up.

“If you were having a bad day Paul would be the one you go to. He was forever laughing, he will be sorely missed by everyone on the firm.

“Sometimes I think you don’t realise how much someone affects you until they’re gone. I would definitely class Paul as that sort of person.”

Mr Lawrence’s colleagues have organised a 20-mile sponsored walk from Brighton's Palace Pier to the Labour club this Saturday from 9am. They want to give him “the send off he deserves”.

Matt added: “We decided to try and do something to help take a bit of stress off the family with the funeral costs.

“We came up with the idea for a sponsored walk from the Palace Pier to Littlehampton Trades and Labour Club.

“We hope the money goes quite a way to it, the rest of the money will go to his family.”

An inquest opening held in Chichester yesterday said ambulance crews were called to the scene in Gladonian Road at around 6.35am on January 28.

The inquest heard that Mr Lawrence, who lived in Cheal Way half a mile from where he died, is believed to have been punched and had a head injury consistent with a fall.

A post mortem was carried out on January 30.

A provisional inquest date was set for September 2. The inquest was suspended while criminal proceedings continue.

The fundraiser for Mr Lawrence has so far raised £4,595 of its £5,000 target.