A MAN was rushed to hospital with severe injuries to his face after being bludgeoned with a spade.

The 50-year-old was found by police when a neighbour called to report a “serious altercation” in Portrush Close, in the Saltersgill area of Middlesbrough, at 8pm on Sunday.

Cleveland Police said they believed it was a targeted attack and moved to quash rumours that it was carried out by an escaped mental patient.

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A 36-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and last night (Monday, June 17) remained in custody.

There was a heavy police presence, with armed response units, in the Saltersgill and Beechwood areas of Middlesbrough throughout yesterday as investigations continued in several areas.

The victim was said to be seriously injured but his injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.

There were still bloodstains on the pavement of Portrush Close yesterday and neighbours reported hearing shouting and screaming from one of the residents.

One neighbour was reported as saying: “When I looked outside his nose and lip were hanging off. It was really bad.

“But he was still trying to drink from a bottle of Lambrini.”

Police said they were keen to speak to anyone else who was in the area at the time. Although people might be reluctant to come forward, they said they could call with information in complete confidence, or phone Crimestoppers anonymously DI Cath Galloway of Middlesbrough CID said: "This was a serious assault which will have shocked the community. However they can be reassured that such incidents are extremely rare and our enquiries will be rigorous.”

Police also moved to scotch rumours on unregulated internet sites that the attack had been carried out by an escaped mental patient, saying it was untrue.

A spokeswoman said: “Contrary to internet rumours currently circulating, the incident in Portrush Close is believed to be a targeted assault. Police inquiries are continuing today and we would repeat our appeal for anyone with information to get in touch as a matter of urgency.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact police on 101. Alternatively please phone the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.