THE father of a vulnerable man with autism who was punched in the face says his son "would not recognise danger in people".

The 28-year-old and his carer were in a car in East Stockwell Street, Colchester, when a man passing by asked if he was mocking him.

The victim’s carer said he was not laughing, but the assailant punched the vulnerable man in the face and ran off, away from the town centre.

The victim, who lives at a care home in Clacton, was taken to hospital with a broken jaw.

The victim’s father said the attack has left his son feeling even more vulnerable.

He said: “He and his carer had gone to the youth club behind the town hall to pick up one of the other members. My son had just gone along for the ride.”

He said when his son gets excited, he laughs and flaps his hands. Just before the incident his son got out of the car and started laughing and flapping.

It was at this point the attacker thought the man was laughing at him.

The victim’s dad added: “My son doesn’t really see any danger in people. His carers try and get him out into the community as he won’t go to a youth club himself.”

He said the incident could have been worse, as another man who was with the attacker managed to pull him away.

The dad said: “For about three weeks afterwards he hardly went out at all. It has definitely set him back and it will take him some time to recover.

“I just can’t believe someone would do that to him.”

Investigating officer Det Con Jonathan Robinson, of Colchester CID, condemned the attack.

He said: “This was a disgusting and unprovoked attack on a vulnerable man that has left him very distressed.

“I have been reviewing CCTV and am now asking for the public’s help.

“The suspect was described as white, aged 40 to 45, and of large build. He wore a hat and dark clothing. He was with another man, who was white, aged 40 to 45, and bald. He wore a white shirt or jacket and dark trousers.”

The incident happened at about 6pm on Wednesday November 21.

Mike Lilley (Lab), councillor responsible for public safety, said: “What sort of world are we living in? We want people to be laughing and smiling.

“This is outrageous and these people do not deserve to be living in Colchester.”

Call 101 with information quoting reference 42/170376/18.