Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Arrests after documentary man dies

Filmmaker Lee Halpin had spoken to a homeless charity about the increase in the number of people living rough on the streets
Filmmaker Lee Halpin had spoken to a homeless charity about the increase in the number of people living rough on the streets

Police are investigating the death of a young documentary maker who was sleeping rough for a project.

Lee Halpin, 26, had decided to spend the week living on the streets in his home city of Newcastle to experience what it was like to be homeless.

But just three days after embarking on his project on Sunday, he was found dead in a derelict building in the West End of the city.

Northumbria Police have arrested two men in connection with the death. The men, aged 26 and 30, were arrested on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug and have since been bailed pending further inquiries.

Speaking on a YouTube video the night before his week of sleeping rough began, Mr Halpin said the project was part of an application for a Channel 4 investigative journalism scheme, to give an example of fearless reporting. He said he had spoken to a homeless charity about the rise in the number of people on the streets and the possible repercussions of the bedroom tax.

"I'm about to go and spend a week being homeless in the West End of Newcastle. I will sleep rough for a week, scrounge for my food, access the services that other homeless individuals use," he said. "I will interact with as many homeless people as possible and immerse myself in that lifestyle as deeply as I can."

He concluded the video by saying he hoped it showed his willingness to get to the heart of a story.

Lee's friend Daniel Lake told The Chronicle: "No one knows how he passed away, but we think it could have been hypothermia. He made the ultimate sacrifice trying to raise awareness about what was happening to other people."

A Channel 4 spokesperson said: "We are saddened to learn of the tragic death of this aspiring young journalist. Our thoughts are with his family."

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: "Police were informed the body of a man believed to be in his 20s had been found in a derelict building in Westgate Road. A report will be prepared for the coroner."

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