Verdict of industrial disease recorded at Exmouth man inquest

A SEMI-retired chartered surveyor from Exmouth died as a result of contaminated airwaves after being exposed to asbestos in old mills and redevelopment sites.

At an inquest into the death of John French Laurence, of Gorse Lane, coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland recorded a verdict of industrial disease.

Dr Earland said she was satisfied that Mr Laurence, whilst engaged in surveys of old mills and redevelopment sites, the 68-year-old was exposed to asbestos.

“My verdict, therefore, is industrial disease,” she said.

Mr Laurence, who was born in Cornwall, died at Wonford Hospital in September last year.


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Dr Earland, reading out a number of medical reports to the court, said the married man and father was admitted to the hospital after a period of feeling unwell.

He went into a cardiac arrest. It was found that he had a perforation of the bowel. Attempts to resuscitate him proved unsuccessful and he died on September 10.

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In a separate medical statement read out to the court, it said for approximately a year Mr Laurence had been getting short of breath while out playing golf.

The court heard the chartered surveyor had sent a form to the job centre for a claim of industrial injuries.

“In 1959 he had assisted in surveys of woollen mills in the north of England. This included quite a bit of dust exposure.”

Mr Laurence was later found to have a condition called mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that develops from the protective lining that covers many of the body’s internal organs.

Most people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles, or they have been exposed to asbestos dust and fiber in other ways.

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