THIEVES punched a deaf man in the stomach before grabbing his mobile phone from his pocket.

The 37 year-old victim had gone for a walk alone when he was approached by two men at the junction of Hamstel Road and Philpott Avenue, Southend.

One of the thieves stood in front of him whilst the other grabbed him from behind.

They punched the deaf man in the stomach before one of them took a Blackberry phone from his pocket.

He relied heavily on the phone to write text messaged in order to communicate with friends and family members.

Dc Paul Gutteridge, investigating officer, said: "This was an appalling attack on a man who is profoundly deaf and cannot speak. He was unable to call for help even though there were people and cars passing at the time.

"We want to hear from any witnesses or anyone who was passing the area at the time of the robbery. We also want to hear from anyone who recognise the men from the descriptions we have been given”.

The incident took place at around 11.50pm on Friday, February 1.

The thieves are both described as white and between 5ft 5in and 5ft 6in tall.

One of the men, believed to be aged around 35, was of broad build, had short blond hair and was wearing jeans and a navy blue jacket.

The second man, believed to be aged around 25, was of slim build, had short dark hair and was wearing jeans and a red or dark-coloured hooded top.

Anyone with information is urged to contact DC Gutteridge at Southend CID on 101.