A TEENAGER was stabbed in the leg after a mass brawl broke out close to Rayleigh town centre.

Blood was left smeared across the pavement following the fight on the corner of Queen’s Road and Eastwood Road, which erupted at about 9.30pm last night.

Witnesses told the Echo up to 40 people were involved at one point - before running off when they heard the sound of police sirens.

Around 15 people remained at the scene as officers arrived.

Sally Malone, 50, from Rayleigh, said: “I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. They were just so violent. Cars seemed to come from every direction. There were at least 40 people involved before the police turned up.

“They started screaming at each other and then a man started going berserk at a BMW, smashing it up and kicking it.

“They moved round the back of Vets for Pets and that must be when the man got stabbed because they were there for a while. It seemed like two gangs, rather than a dispute between a couple of people. It was terrifying.”

An 18-year-old man from Rochford was stabbed in the leg and taken to Southend University hospital for treatment.

Police cordoned off the road for forensic tests.

One Eastwood Road business owner, who did not want to be named, told how the brawl spilled into his shop.

He said: “One of the boys actually came in to ask for tissues because someone was bleeding. When I went to look there was lots of blood on the pavement.”

Jamie Burton, Wheatley ward councillor, said: “I am shocked and saddened. It’s really disappointing that young people feel the need to carry knives.

“Gang culture is not something that belongs in Rayleigh and we as councillors will do our best to stamp it out.”

An Essex Police spokesman said: “An 18-year-old man from Rochford was stabbed in the lower body following an altercation involving a group of around 10 to 15 people. His injuries are not life threatening.”

Anyone with information can call police on 101.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.