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Now police are hunting two men seen running from the scene after Mr Cole, who was sleeping rough, suffered serious burns.
A friend of Mr Cole, who did not want to be named, said: "There's nothing lower than to do this to someone. There are some sick people out there.
"I've known him for years and he might be homeless, but if you needed a penny and he had it, he would give it to you.
"I believe in karma, and I think that whoever did this will get what they deserve. If anyone knows anything, they should come forward."
Mr Cole was asleep in the entrance of a building on Thursday, March 6, when he awoke to discover his clothing alight.
He did not tell police until Saturday when he was taken to East Grinstead hospital to be treated for burns to his leg, arm and face.
The victim said he saw two men who ran off when he woke up.
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