A LORRY driver was assaulted before his vehicle was stolen and involved in a number of crashes as the thief tried to escape from police.

The seven-and-a-half-ton, curtain-sided truck was stolen after the driver was attacked in the slip road beside the M25 in Thurrock at about 1.30am this morning, Thursday.

Police officers found the lorry, but it did not stop for them. It was then followed on the M25, through Brook Street on the A12 at Brentwood and then on the A13 before it was eventually stopped at Tilbury at about 3am.

A 22-year-old man from Kent was arrested on suspicion of committing theft and a number of motoring offences. He is currently being questioned by officers at Grays police station.

Any witnesses, or anyone with information about collisions involving the lorry, should contact Det Con Russ Chamberlain at the Grays target offender team on 101.