Asbestos death of Billington man

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A Billington man has spoken of his sense of closure after a coroner ruled that his father had died from industrial disease after being exposed to asbestos.

Mr Phil Barnes’s father, Tom, had struggled with ill health for several years. Eventually he and his family decided the warmer climate of Malta might help him and he was living there when he died on January 5th.

My family told me not to worry, but my gut feeling told me it was otherwise

Phil Barnes

The family had feared exposure to asbestos and chemicals during his working life had been responsible for Mr Barnes senior’s ill health and welcomed a coroner’s verdict that he died of industrial disease.

An inquest in Burnley ruled that Mr Barnes (73) died from malignant mesothelioma - a cancer that commonly develops in the lungs of people exposed to asbestos.

His son Phil (43), of Pasturelands Drive, had suggested his father go to Malta last September where he hoped the warm climate would help his breathing.

He said: “When the cold weather hit it was like someone grabbing his chest. I suggested he went to Malta because the warmer climate would help him breathe. I was very insistent he contact me regularly. I had been very close with my dad recently.

“All of a sudden I heard nothing. My family told me not to worry, but my gut feeling told me it was otherwise.”

Mr Barnes junior attended the inquest at Burnley Coroner’s Court on June 16th and said the verdict confirmed his beliefs about the circumstances in which his father died.

“We are still dealing with everything: dad’s estate, all his belongings – many are still in Malta,” he said.

“But this, today, has just been a brilliant closure. It has confirmed that what happened, happened.”

Mr Barnes senior had claimed he was exposed to asbestos while working for William Blythe Ltd, a chemical company in Church, from 1956 to 1965.

Last September he had prepared a statement for his solicitor regarding his employment with William Blythe Ltd in which he gave details of the conditions he worked in.

“It was very dusty work and I inhaled asbestos in,” he said.

“Asbestos was treated very casually and no differently to any other chemicals. I was not told how to minimise the danger of asbestos.”

Dr Muhammad Aslam, consultant histopatholgist for East Lancashire, conducted a post-mortem examination and concluded that the cause of death was malignant mesothelioma prompted by exposure to asbestos.

Mark Williams, assistant coroner delivered a verdict of industrial disease.