A MAN was beaten with a baseball bat so badly it broke in two during a vicious late-night attack.

The quiet Benfleet street was turned into a battleground as a man was driven at by a car which then crashed through a hedge and into a tree.

Neighbours in School Lane say they believe the disturbance was related to drug dealing in the area.

Josh Smith, 23, of School Lane, said: “You could hear the screeching of car brakes, then groaning, a man letting out a bit of pain. That was going on for about ten minutes, then I heard someone say ‘Right lads, shake hands’.

“I heard a big bang, like a car had been started and then a crash. Nothing like that’s ever happened round here before.”

Another resident said: “It was quite frightening. It was completely pitch black as the street lights were off.”

Police turned up just after the fight had finished – around 12.40am on Monday – and discovered an injured man in a car who refused their help. They called an ambulance but he refused treatment.

One resident, who didn’t want to be named, said there had been problems with drug dealing in the road.

They added: “Many residents are now scared to go out after dark, and some have been threatened by the drug dealers.”

A police spokeswoman said: “Police were called to a report of a fight in the street in School Lane.

“On arrival, there was no on-going incident. Police spoke to the informant who confirmed that he had seen an assault with a baseball bat and a car reverse into a hedge.

“A police search later located a broken baseball bat and a damaged bush. They then found a man with injuries in a car and called an ambulance.

“The man confirmed that he had been assaulted but did not wish to make a formal complaint at the time.”

Anyone who wants to report criminal or suspicious activity in their area, should call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, or 999 in an emergency, she added.

Southend Standard: Damage - A car crashed into a hedge during the fight