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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Matt Lee & Ryan Merrifield

Man found dying in Iceland car park was dad 'who was always smiling'

A murder investigation has been launched after a man died in a supermarket car park, with the victim described as having a "huge heart".

He has been identified locally as dad Matt Portwood, with paramedics having treated him for serious injuries at the scene outside Iceland before he was pronounced dead.

Essex Police were called to Furtherwick Road, in Canvey Island, on Saturday morning before the man was found.

Detectives are making "good progress" in the murder probe, but are yet to make any arrests.

They believe the attack was "targeted" and involved people who had been inside The Haystack pub.

Dad-of-two Mr Portwood was a bouncer who worked at various venues in the area.

He has been described as a "little man with a huge heart".

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Police and forensics at the scene of a murder in Canvey Island (JOHN McLELLAN)

Wendy Mills, a close friend of Matt of around 15 years, said one of her first encounters with him was when he worked with her brother - who worked as a doorman at The Pink Toothbrush in Rayleigh - and was stabbed.

"He was so loyal and genuine, he was such a lovely guy," Wendy, 49, told EssexLive.

"He would help anyone. As a doorman, they protect young women. He just wanted to protect the public which makes it even more sad.

"Being a doorman takes bottle in this day and age. Doing that kind of work he was protecting the public. He was a good friend to me.

"We used to take the mick out of him as he's one of the shortest doormen I've ever seen, I was surprised he was one as he was tiny and with little legs. He was a lovely bloke. I've never heard a bad word about him."

Police are yet to make any arrests (JOHN McLELLAN)

She added: "My brother died in August, but Matt had a picture of him tattooed on his arm - it showed his huge loyalty. He was one in a million.

"He was West Ham mad, he absolutely loved them. He loved Slipknot too. He was the most loyal father to his two children too and my heart really goes out to them. The coward who has done this hasn't realised that this weekend he would have been seeing his children."

"He always had a smile on his face," she continued. "He's a cheeky chappy. There's not one picture where he's not smiling. He was very cheeky and a joker - there's not many people in this day and age like him.

"We got home from holiday on Friday and I woke up to this early on Saturday morning. I can't afford to lose genuine people like Matt. He was such a great father to his two children. He was doing the door to treat his kids with McDonald's, sweets and other things. He was a great dad. A real legend.

The victim is thought to have been attacked at a nearby pub (JOHN McLELLAN)

"He was very close to my brother and when you lose someone there's not many people who support you as they don't know what to say. For me, he was my support system along with my husband. He was always a little man with a big heart if I had to sum him up in a cliché."

Another friend of Matt's, who did not want to be named, said: "He was a very good friend of mine and I'm absolutely broken to hear the sad news. I feel so robbed of him. I and a few other friends were going to meet up to have dinner and drinks and it's been taken from us all.

"He was such a lovely man who wouldn't hurt anyone. Why would anyone want to hurt him? I just can't believe it."

Essex Police have appealed for "anyone who saw something" to come forward and assist their enquiries.

"I really hope they catch those who did it," Wendy said. "I absolutely hate knife crime and Matt hated it too. He will be a great loss to The Haystack. He was protecting the public, what a man. He didn't deserve to go this way."

A special portal has been set up through which information about the fatal assault can be reported. It can be found here.

If you would like to make an anonymous report you can contact independent charity @Crimestoppers, by visiting their website or by calling 0800 555 111. Please quote the crime reference number 42/21102/23.

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