A HOMELESS man was subjected to a ‘cowardly and unprovoked’ attack in Blackburn town centre.

The victim was sitting in a sleeping bag under the bike racks in Astley Gate, near Debenhams, when he was approached by two men on Sunday, January 5, at 8.20pm.

He was kicked and punched in the face repeatedly in the assault which has been roundly condemned.

Police arrested a 26-year-old man from Blackburn on suspicion of assault and affray and has since been released under investigation pending further enquiries.

Officers also arrested a 30-year-old man from Blackburn on suspicion of assault and affray.

He remains in custody.

People who work to help the homeless in the town have spoken out about the assault.

Debbie Miller, trustee at Blackburn group, Community Spirit which gets volunteers to go out and feed and support the homeless in the town centre, said: “This is a despicable attack on a defenceless man.

“With him being homeless it makes him all the more vulnerable.

“I hope anyone who witnessed the attack gets in touch with the police and the perpetrator is found and dealt with.”

Kate Hollern, Blackburn's MP, said: “I was horrified to hear that a homeless person has been treated in this way. I would urge anyone who knows anything about the incident to get in touch with the police.

“Homelessness levels across the country are at record levels and winter is a hard time of year to survive as it is.

“No-one deserves to be treated in such a disgraceful way.”

PC Kaz Garda said: “This was a cowardly, unprovoked attack on a homeless man.

“We need anyone who witnessed the assault or can help in any way, to get in touch as soon as possible.

“We’re particularly keen to identify the man in the photos.

“If you recognise him, please let us know.”

Anyone with information is urged to call 101 quoting log number 1195 of January 5.

Alternatively Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555111.