Saturday, 6 April 2013

Lee Halpin RIP: Death of a Film-maker

Frozen to death: Two men arrested in connection with death of film-maker Lee Halpin
A film-maker from Heaton has died while creating a documentary about sleeping rough on the streets

Kerry Wood
5 Apr 2013

Two men have now been arrested in connection with the death of film-maker Lee Halpin. The men, aged 26 and 30, were arrested on suspicion of supplying controlled drugs.

The former Heaton Manor School pupil, aged 26, was discovered in the vacant Summerhill Hostel, on Westgate Road, Newcastle, just before 10am on Wednesday.

The men have been bailed pending further inquiries.

It’s believed Lee Halpin set aside this week to go it alone on the city’s streets experiencing and filming what life is like for those who are living rough.

He’d spoken with his friends about looking forward to the project and on Sunday was asking his 1,500 Twitter followers if anyone had a sleeping bag he could borrow.

In his last Tweet – on Sunday at 11.05am – Lee asked his followers: “If anyone has got an old phone I can have for a week, I'd be very grateful.”

But three days later Lee, who lived with his family in Heaton, Newcastle, was found dead in a boarded-up hostel on the city’s Westgate Road.

It is not yet known how he died, but it’s feared the 27-year-old may have succumbed to hypothermia.

A Met Office spokesman confirmed the lowest recorded temperature for Newcastle early on April 3 was around -4.2C.

Lee’s friend of 10 years Daniel Lake said: “I was just talking to Lee on Saturday, having some banter talking about football and how excited he was about going out filming.

“Lee was a great guy, a character and was well known. His big things were creative writing and poetry. He was making a documentary about homeless people living in Newcastle’s West End.

“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.”

Lee, a former Heaton Manor School pupil, was discovered in the vacant Summerhill Hostel just before 10am on Wednesday.

A Northumbria Police spokesman said it was believed no third party was involved in his death, adding: “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.” Paramedics were also called to the property.

Since Lee’s death, tributes have come in from friends and those who knew him. One friend described Lee as “a great advocate for the NE arts scene”.

Having completed his creative writing MA at Newcastle University, Lee went on to become a founder editor of Novel, a magazine covering all aspects of North East culture from performances and exhibitions to launch parties and talent.

And for almost a year, he’d featured on the airwaves with his The Weekend Starts Here Show on Radio Tyneside, on Fridays from 8pm till 10pm.

On Twitter, tributes have been paid by those who worked with and knew Lee.

Staff at Intimation Creative said: “We’re very sad to hear that Lee Halpin passed away....Our thoughts go out to Lee’s family and many friends.”

The band Tea Pad Orchestra said: “We are very sad to hear of the death of Lee Halpin......Helped us a lot. Thanks mate and goodbye.”

Dan Howarth described Lee as a “talented, courageous and thoroughly excellent bloke”, adding: “Shattered by the news of the death of Lee Halpin.....a massive loss.”

A post mortem examination to establish his cause of death is expected shortly.

For Novel magazine see

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