Wife poi­soned by as­bestos ‘from my hugs and kisses’

Daily Express - - Richard & Judy - By News Re­porter

AN ELEC­TRI­CIAN who “un­wit­tingly poi­soned his wife with as­bestos dust” while they hugged and kissed 40 years ago is su­ing his em­ploy­ers Vaux­hall Mo­tors for £1mil­lion over her death.

John Carey, 60, told the High Court yesterday that when he started dat­ing wife Ly­dia she breathed in fi­bres se­creted on his work over­alls and even in his hair, mous­tache and side­burns.

Grand­mother Ly­dia, also 60, died last month af­ter los­ing her fight against as­bestos-linked lung cancer.

Bar­ris­ter John-Paul Swo­boda said deadly fi­bres were trans­mit­ted from hus­band to wife dur­ing the rit­u­als of daily life.

He said: “All through the pe­riod she and John Carey would hug and kiss upon see­ing one an­other.”

Mr Swo­boda said fi­bres had been dor­mant in Mrs Carey’s body for 40 years be­fore trig­ger­ing the cancer that killed her. She was di­ag­nosed in Oc­to­ber 2017 with mesothe­lioma.

Mr Carey, from Tod­ding­ton, Bed­ford­shire, is su­ing the car gi­ant af­ter he worked at sites in Lu­ton and Dun­sta­ble be­tween 1973 and 1979.

The com­pany de­nies Mr Carey was ex­posed to hazardous amounts or that he would have “dis­turbed as­bestos in the fab­ric of the build­ing”.

They have said that all as­bestosre­lated work at the plants was done by spe­cial­ist ex­ter­nal con­trac­tors and it op­er­ated an over­alls wash­ing scheme for its em­ploy­ees.

Pol­luted

But Mr Swo­boda said the com­pany had charged ex­tra for the laun­dry ser­vice, and in­sisted Mr Carey worked in close prox­im­ity to as­bestos dust.

The cou­ple wed in 1978 and house proud Mrs Carey reg­u­larly washed her hus­band’s work over­alls, the court heard. His work clothes were at times “black with dust” which even pen­e­trated into the turn-ups of trousers.

Mr Swo­boda said: “Once mar­ried, Mr Carey would change from his work clothes when he came home so as not to make the house dirty. Mrs Carey would knock and brush the dust off his work clothes, and she re­mem­bered wash­ing his blue over­alls.”

She would “beat the dust” from his clothes be­fore putting them into the wash­ing ma­chine, the court heard.

Much of Mr Carey’s work was car­ried out at Dun­sta­ble.

Mr Swo­boda claimed the fac­tory was pol­luted by “huge quan­ti­ties of as­bestos”.

Mr Carey worked along­side men re­mov­ing or ap­ply­ing as­bestos lag­ging to pipes, and he re­called see­ing work­ers mix­ing as­bestos pow­der to paste.

At times he had to “walk through, kneel or lie on as­bestos dust and de­bris on the floor to carry out his work,” the court heard.

“He swept as­bestos dust and de­bris from the floor us­ing a dust­pan and brush,” Mr Swo­boda added.

Mr Carey claims Vaux­hall ne­glected to warn him of the dan­gers linked to as­bestos and should have pro­vided him with pro­tec­tive equip­ment.

And Mrs Carey’s in­di­rect ex­po­sure to dust and fi­bres be­tween 1976 and 1979 was enough for as­bestos “to do its deadly work”.

But Vaux­hall’s QC Paul sug­gested other sources Bleas­dale for Mrs Carey’s fa­tal ill­ness. Even if Mr Carey was ex­posed to as­bestos when work­ing for Vaux­hall, it would have been “very oc­ca­sional if not min­i­mal”, he ar­gued.

And he claimed that Mrs Carey may have been ex­posed at other times dur­ing her hus­band’s work­ing life or by con­tact with her fa­ther, who had also worked with as­bestos dur­ing her child­hood.

Mr Carey said out­side court that his un­wit­ting ex­po­sure of his wife to as­bestos is “the cross I have to bear”.

He said the cou­ple had just cel­e­brated 40 years of mar­riage when she died, adding: “We were to­gether since our teens. She was my world, she meant ev­ery­thing to me. She was a lovely lady, very bub­bly.

“We have four grand­chil­dren and she was so much look­ing for­ward to see­ing them grow up. She had ev­ery­thing to go on for.

“They say ev­ery­thing hap­pens for a rea­son. I’m not so sure about that, but hope­fully this case will raise some aware­ness about this stuff, which is a silent killer.”

Judge Karen Walden-Smith will rule on the claim at a later date.

The Vaux­hall plant at Dun­sta­ble in the 1970s which, it was claimed, was ‘pol­luted with huge quan­ti­ties of as­bestos’

John Carey with wife Ly­dia who was his child­hood sweet­heart and, above, out­side court yesterday

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