Tributes have been paid to a “pleasant and kind” man who was killed in a vicious stabbing in Pitsea.

Darren Kelly, of Voysey Gardens, Basildon, was stabbed multiple times to the chest and back following an argument with a group of five youths.

Following the attack in Caister Drive at 9.30pm on Tuesday, the dad-of-one was taken to Basildon Hospital in a critical condition, where he later died.

Retired Linda Gallacher, 68, who lives next door to Mr Kelly, said he was a nice man who often stopped to say hello.

She said: “Sometimes he would say hello and other times I would just see him heading to work. He had lots of different jobs but I knew he was working as a lorry driver lately.

“He was pleasant and kind, he was more in contact with my son than me. We were very friendly with his ex-wife Katie.

“I know that he was wanting to move out and put his place up for sale.

“It’s very sad and I am very shocked, I couldn’t believe it when I heard.”

Mrs Gallacher said she was woken up at about 2am to police turning up next door and bashing the door down.

Mr Kelly’s cousin, who did not want to be named, told the Echo: “He was the most loveliest person you could ever meet, he was just the best person ever.

“He meant the world to me, he was all I had.

“He had loads of friends. He wasn’t a confrontational or angry person, he was really gentle.

“He looked out for everyone. He was my rock.”

Residents living in Caister Drive spoke of their shock and fear following the stabbing.

Unemployed John Rawlinson, 52, who lives in the section of the street which was cordoned off, said: “I remember it was about 10.30pm and I was just finishing watching a DVD.

“I got up to make a cup of tea and I saw lots of flashing lights outside my house. I saw two police cars and then an ambulance turned up.

“I could see a crowd of people outside but I didn’t see anyone on the floor.

“It’s really shocking and upsetting. It’s normally very quiet round here.”

Kerry Porter, 54, said she was worried about her 81-year-old father, who lives in nearby Edinburgh Way.

She said: “I am concerned about him living here with these sort of things happening.

“He walks around the area alone and so do I. I also worry about children living in the area.

“Basildon was a nice area I don’t know what’s happening.”

Mum-of-two Sarah Holland, 38, also of Caister Drive, said: “It is quite shocking. I walk through that way sometimes and I could have been walking through last night.

“I don’t let me children play out at all but neighbours have said they won’t let their children play out any more.”