Asbestos link ruled out by coroner

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A CORONER recorded an open verdict on the death of a retired lagger after failing to find a link to industrial disease.

Robert Kelly, 78, died at his home in Arabella Street on Hartlepool’s Headland, where his loving wife Eileen had nursed him.

The cause of death, on April 2, was pneumonia, but there was an underlying chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is a recognised industrial disease.

Hartlepool coroner Malcolm Donnelly said consultant pathologist Katherine Hobday carried out a post-mortem examination and looked for evidence of asbestos exposure and any evidence of it being involved in the death of Mr Kelly, who was a smoker.

He said Dr Hobday found that the asbestos fibre count in Mr Kelly’s lungs was “not particularly high”.

Mr Kelly’s wife said: “He was a labourer at Newell’s, he would have been exposed to asbestos there.”

Mr Donnelly said: “But there wasn’t any asbestos link in the post-mortem.”

He added: “I can’t say for certain or even on the balance of probability that asbestos was a feature of his death because there isn’t an evidential link.

“We know he was exposed to asbestos at work but that doesn’t feed through to what the pathologist finds when she has examined the body tissue.”

Mrs Kelly attended the inquest with three of her daughters and one of them said: “He has just been a fighter all the way through.”