A MAN who was placed in a medically-induced coma after suffering horrific mutilation to his groin and the loss of his penis is now conscious.

Officers visited the man in hospital this morning but were unable to carry out a detailed interview but hope to speak to him later today in a bid to establish how he came by his injuries.

The unnamed 40-year-old was rushed to hospital after being found "in a distressed state" staggering along the busy A66 at around 4.50am on Thursday morning, according to police.

The dual carriageway was closed for several hours while they carried out a fingertip search of the road and grass verge for the missing organ. Afterwards, Cleveland Police declined to say if the penis had been recovered.

It is believed that the incident could be connected to a traveller site near to the area of South Bank, Middlesbrough, where the man was found with serious injuries to his groin.

Police have identified the victim as a 40-year-old man from the South Bank area of the town.

Speaking yesterday, a force spokeswoman said: "Police can confirm that the man found on the A66 had wounds to his groin area.

“The road closures were required as part of the investigation into how the man received his injuries.

“This was necessary so that officers could look for anything which may shed light on how he became injured or his direction of travel. If the road was not closed any evidence could be lost or destroyed.

“Investigations are at a very early stage and we have not ruled out any line of enquiry. Officers are hoping they will be able to get more information when they speak to the injured man.”

The road closure caused severe tailbacks during the morning rush hour while the junctions between the Greystones Roundabout and Church Lane were sealed off by police cars or vans to enable officers to safely search the area.

A 22-year-old man arrested on suspicion of assault has been released on police bail pending further enquiries.

Anyone with any information or who may have witnessed the incident is asked to call Cleveland Police on 101 or alternatively call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111.”