A CATHEDRAL city has been shocked by the death of a homeless man on its streets.

Paramedics went to the aid of Ian Hallimond, 45, in Durham City, after a woman spotted him apparently in distress at about 11am on Friday.

Mr Hallimond, who is understood to have been found at a bus shelter in Church Street, was taken by ambulance to the University Hospital of North Durham, but was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

The tragedy has saddened the university city, which enjoys higher levels of employment and wealth than many surrounding areas.

However, police and charity leaders have been warning that the city does have a homelessness problem for some time.

In August, officers from Durham Police and staff from Durham Action on Single Housing (Dash) launched a series of weekly dawn sweeps of the city looking for rough sleepers.

Some people believe as many as 15 people could be homeless in Durham.

Mr Hallimond is believed to have originally been from Seaham.

He had previously led a normal life, being married, having a daughter and working as a butcher.

It is believed he became homeless about two years ago, struggled with alcoholism and spent most of his nights on Durham’s riverbanks, carrying a tent everywhere he went.

Captain Gary Lacey, of the Salvation Army, met Mr Hallimond through the Sanctuary 21 project, which he visited about three times a week to get fresh water.

Capt Lacey said: “He was a lovely guy. He never showed any violence or raised temper.

He was always respectful and appreciated what people were doing for him. He’d become part of the family. It’s a real shock. I’m very saddened.

“There is an amount of homelessness in Durham. It’s a significant problem.”

A Durham Police spokeswoman said officers were called out following reports of a man having a fit.

She said Mr Hallimond’s death was not being treated as suspicious, but the coroner had been informed and a postmortem examination was due to be carried out.

An inquest into Mr Hallimond’s death is due to be opened at the coroner’s office, in Crook, this morning.