Homeless man died in bin blaze after 'lighting fire to keep warm'

Darren Robson was found dead in a bin storage area in Whitley Bay

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The Independent Online

A homeless man who died in a fire in a bin storage area near Newcastle may have started the blaze to keep warm, it has emerged.

Darren Robson, 43, was found dead on Friday morning in the seaside town of Whitley Bay.

Firefighters had been called to a blaze in a wheelie bin storage area behind shops at 6.20am and recovered his body after it was extinguished.

Mr Robson’s friend, Chris Parker, told the Newcastle Chronicle he had asked him for a room for the night hours before he died.

“He asked to stay at mine but I couldn’t let him,” the 29-year-old added.

“He used to sleep on the beach and light fires to keep warm, so that’s probably what happened.

“He has been sleeping [in the bin store] for a while just to stay out the cold. I think he had a blanket and a mattress in there.”

Northumbria Police said the investigation was continuing and they could not confirm the claims.

Acting Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fairlamb said: “We're still keen to speak to any witnesses who were in the area at the time and saw this man, or anyone with information to get in touch with us as soon as possible.

“While there is currently no evidence to suggest he has been assaulted, we're keeping an open mind and enquiries continue.”

Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of Crisis, said Mr Robson's death highlighted the dangers faced by all rough sleepers.

He added: “I’m deeply saddened to hear of the death of Darren Robson and my thoughts go out to his family and friends.

"His death is a tragic reminder of the dangers faced by thousands of people who have no choice but to sleep on the streets.

"It is a grim reality that the average age of death for a homeless person is just 47. At the same time, homeless people are 13 times more likely to have experienced violence.

“No one should have to face the dangers of the streets."