POLICE are hunting three men who attacked a Durham University student as he walked home alone early on Saturday.

The un-named 20-year-old, who had been visiting a friend, was set upon in Gilesgate at 12.30am.

He had a brief conversation with his attackers before they punched him in the face.

He was found lying at the approach to Hild and Bede College, near the Gilesgate roundabout, more than an hour later.

The injured student was taken to Durham's Dryburn Hospital with facial and head injuries and transferred to Sunderland Eye Infirmary before being allowed home.

Police are appealing for witnesses and say that the attackers were in their teens or early 20s and were about 6ft and wearing sports shirts.

Det Sgt Eric Malkin said: "This young man was severely beaten and, as a result of the injuries sustained, his recollection isn't clear.

"It would seem he had been lying on the ground for over an hour before a taxi driver spotted him and sought help.

"It is worrying to think he lay un-noticed for so long and it is fortunate he did not come to further harm during that time.''

Anyone in the area at the time is urged to call Durham City police station on (0191) 386 4222.