A man whose sandwich was snatched by a seagull allegedly battered the bird to death before jumping on its corpse in front of horrified onlookers.

The decorator was working on the storefront of the Waterfalls Gift and Coffee Shop in Hastings, East Sussex on August 11 when the gull pinched his sandwich.

In a rage, he grabbed a piece of wood and bludgeoned the animal, it is claimed.

Witnesses say he then stuffed its feebly stirring body into a bin liner before jumping on it.

Local gull appreciators and animal rights campaigners were disgusted by the incident, and now almost 3,000 people have signed a petition calling for the man to be prosecuted.

The man was working outside the Waterfalls Gift and Coffee Shop at the time

"The decorator used a block of wood to batter the seagull, then put its unconscious body in a rubbish bin liner bag," petition organiser Mike Shipway wrote.

"Shortly after, to the consternation of onlookers, the decorator jumped up and down on the bag when the gull showed signed of life.

"The decorator admitted to police that he had killed the gull. All this happened in a busy main street in broad daylight, in front of horrified shoppers and animal lovers. In Hastings town centre outside Waterfalls Café and gift shop, Robertson Street."

Mr Shipway, who also runs the Hastings Old Town Gull Appreciation Group on Facebook, added: "The majority of people in Hastings love their seagulls and certainly don't want people thinking they can just break the law and kill our wildlife."

The decorator allegedly beat the bird to death with a slab of wood

Daily Star Online has contacted Sussex Police for comment.

The Waterfalls Gift and Coffee Shop says the decorator will not be rehired, and has hit out at "trolls" who have targeted and threatened staff since the seagull incident.

"We would like to say that we do not condone animal cruelty or what happened. We are deeply upset and saddened by the whole thing," the shop posted on Facebook.

The business added: "At no point did we 'not care'."

The bird's body seen in a bin bag after the attack

Despite being commonly thought of as pests, all species of gulls in England and Wales are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The law states that "if any person intentionally kills, injures or takes any wild bird, he shall be guilty of an offence".

Anyone convicted faces a fine of up to £5,000 or six months in jail.