Man suffering from asbestos poisoning died at St Wilfrid’s

St Wilfrid's Hospice Eastbourne SUS-141015-110954001
St Wilfrid's Hospice Eastbourne SUS-141015-110954001

A 75-year old Hailsham man suffering from asbestos poisoning died a week after being admitted to St Wilfrid’s Hospice, an inquest has heard.

James Spencer, of Harmers Hay Road in Hailsham, was taken into the Hospice on January 10, 2015 but died a week later, on January 17.

At his inquest, held at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, February 12, the court heard how Mr Spencer was a specialist joiner by trade. In an in-life statement written by Mr Spencer’s solicitors, he told how he worked as a carpenter and shop fitter for W.K Nelson King, where he was exposed to asbestos on a number of occasions. Much of his work was done in basements, where pipes would be covered with asbestos lagging.

Later, he worked for Turner and Dean, where he was let out as a sub-contractor for Bell and Pearson. The work, which was overseen by East Sussex County Council, involved cutting soffits and boards that were made of asbestos sheets.

He said he was never given any information about asbestos, nor any protective mask. He used to sweep up the dust with a dustpan and brush at the end of each day.

Coroner Alan Craze recorded a conclusion of death by industrial disease.

Mr Craze felt assured that Mr Spencer suffered from asbestos poisoning, which is on the list of industrial diseases, and that he died as a cause of the infection and did not simply have it as a secondary illness. He was also convinced Mr Spencer contracted the disease during many years of exposure at work.

While a post mortem was not carried out, a junior nurse at St Wilfrid’s Hospice agreed with the cause of death as asbestos poisoning.