Film-maker 'freezes to death' making film about homelessness

A young film-maker's attempt to investigate the plight of the homeless in England's north has ended in tragedy.

Lee Halpin, 26, was found dead in a disused hostel in Newcastle where overnight temperatures fell below -4C. Local media reported he had likely frozen to death, although the exact cause of death has not yet been determined.

The Times reports that two men were subsequently arrested on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug in connection with the Halpin case.

Halpin recorded a video describing his plan to experience street life as part of an application for a journalist position with the UK's Channel 4.

In the video, Halpin said he hoped his willingness to sleep rough would demonstrate the "fearlessness" required by selectors for the channel's investigative journalism program.

"It certainly feels brave from where I'm sat right now," Halpin said. "It has certainly caused a huge amount of trepidation amongst my family and friends who think it's a brave thing to do.

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

The film-maker said his investigation was spurred by a conversation with representatives of homeless charity Crisis, in which he learned of a 31 per cent rise in the number of people sleeping rough during the winter.

Police are waiting for the results of a post-mortem examination to establish the cause of Halpin's death. They say there were no suspicious circumstances.

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