A man is in hospital with serious injuries after he tried to defend a woman who was verbally abused by a gang in Cambridgeshire.
The group of up to 10 people made a comment as the pair walked across Waitrose car park in St Neots early on Sunday.
The man, 28, told them to go away, but was set upon in an alley between the High Street and the Pig 'n' Falcon pub.
He was pulled to the ground and punched and kicked in the head.
Det Con Karin Peters, of Cambridgeshire Police, said: "This was a sickening, unprovoked attack on a man who was simply standing up for his friend.
"He suffered serious injuries after being kicked in the head while he was unconscious.
"Despite the time of the incident, the area was fairly busy and I'm sure many people would have seen the group before or after the attack."
Anyone with information on the attack, which took place at 0145 GMT, should contact Cambridgeshire Police.