A woman fought off a man who tried to rape her near a church.

The victim was walking in Sutton Road, near All Saints Church, when she was targeted by the thug who tried to force himself on her in the early hours of Sunday.

Fortunately, the woman was able to fight him off and run away before calling police.

The man fled in the direction of York Road.

Neighbours reported seeing forensic examiners, and a police cordon in place, as the area was combed for evidence on Sunday.

Police have this week upped foot patrols in the area as detectives launched an investigation and are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

A spokesman for the force said: “We were called shortly after 12.30am Sunday with concerns for the welfare of a woman on Sutton Road.

“It was reported that a white man, described as being around 5ft 10ins tall with black hair, approached the woman in the area of All Saints Church and had attempted to rape her.”

If you were in the area around this time and either saw or heard anything suspicious or saw a man matching this description, please call the South Major Investigation Team on 101 quoting crime reference number 42/143834/19.

You can also email scd.appeals.essex@essex.pnn.police.uk.

Alternatively, if you would like to remain anonymous, you can also share information by contacting independent crimefighting charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

You can share information with Crimestoppers online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org

A spokesman added: “Extra officer patrols have been taking place, so if you have any information or concerns, please speak with one of our officers.”