NEARLY 140 people have died due to homelessness within five years in the east of England.

The latest Office for National Statistics figures indicate 138 homeless deaths were registered across the region but estimates the death toll to be 166.

There were an estimated 24 deaths between 2013 and 2017 in Essex County Council areas.

Colchester and Brentwood were the only two councils to have one registered homeless death in 2017 versus two in Southend, where there has been the most deaths in the time surveyed.

Two men, Mark Hartley and Darren Miller, were convicted of murdering rough sleeper Martin Dines, 56, in St Mary’s car park last year, while Heidi Kenney was convicted of manslaughter.

The statistics paint a bleak picture across England with the numbers of identified homeless deaths having risen from 374 in 2013 to 480.

Estimated deaths remain higher at 584 in 2017.