A MAN is fighting for his life after he was beaten and set on fire after leaving a nightclub.
Ashley Stephen Robinson, 28, is in a critical condition in hospital after he was discovered in the street with severe burns.
Emergency services rushed to the scene after he was spotted by a member of the public at a garage block at the rear of Pendle Close in the Pennine Drive area of Peterlee at around 3pm yesterday.
He was rushed to Sunderland Royal Hospital, but was later transferred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, where he is currently in a medically induced coma.
Detective Inspector Steve Chapman, of Peterlee CID, said it was believed Ashley had been attacked and the area where he was found had been cordoned off and an extensive examination by crime-scene-investigators carried out.
He said: "We know the victim left his parents home in Cotswold Place in Peterlee shortly before 7pm on Saturday with the intention of socialising in the town.
"He spent time in The Lodge and went on to the adjoining Vibe nightclub, leaving about 2.30am on Sunday morning.
"We need to piece together his movements over the next 12 hours and would like to talk to anyone who was with or has seen him during that time.
"We have yet to establish a motive for this attack but at some stage he appears to have been set on fire and his clothing may have been alight for some time before he was found and the alarm raised."
Three local men, one in his late teens and the others in their 20s, have been arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and are currently held at Peterlee police station for questioning.
Anyone with information can contact Peterlee Police on 0345 6060 365 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.