Family’s Search For British Rail Ex-Work Mates After Asbestos Death

Appeal Launched To Help Battle For Justice

13.09.2011

The family of a retired British Rail carpenter, who died from an aggressive asbestos related cancer, is hoping his former colleagues may have vital clues which will help in their search for justice.

Raymond Mansfield Smith from Mount Nod in Coventry had worked for British Rail for 40 years.

Mr Smith initially began suffering from a cough, shortness of breath and pain around his chest. It was not until he had a fall at home on Sunday 9th August 2009 and his doctor suspected he had broken ribs that he was sent for a chest x-ray which revealed something more serious affecting his chest.

He was given the devastating news that he had incurable mesothelioma in September and sadly died just two months later on 17th October 2009 at the age of 83.

In April 2010, Deputy HM Coroner for Coventry and Warwickshire, D Clark recorded a verdict of industrial disease and confirmed that Mr Smith had died as a result of malignant mesothelioma.

Now, his family has turned to workplace illness legal experts at Irwin Mitchell, in a bid to discover how he became exposed to asbestos.

Although Mr Smith worked for British Rail for 40 years, it is believed that he was exposed to asbestos during the crucial period between 1947 and 1960 whilst working as a carpenter in the Civil Engineering Department, based at the Old Goods Yard in Coventry.

During his time as a carpenter, he was mainly responsible for maintenance work of the engine sheds, which involved removing damaged asbestos sheets and replacing them with fresh corrugated asbestos sheets.

Following his death Mr Smith’s family has pledged to fight for justice and has launched a search to find British Rail workers who may be able to shed light on how their father came into contact with asbestos.

Commenting on behalf of the family his daughter, Lyn Abbey, said: ““Dad worked all of his life for British Rail and was a very active person. He only started to slow down a couple of years before his death’.

“When Dad was diagnosed with asbestos related mesothelioma in September 2009 it came as a huge shock to the family. He suffered greatly in those final months and he has left behind a family who miss him terribly. After Mum's death in 1982 at the age of 39, Dad was sole carer to me, my two brothers and my sister, who sadly died in 2008.”

Satinder Bains, a workplace illness expert with the Birmingham Office of Irwin Mitchell solicitors, who represents Mr Smith’s family, said: “Raymond and his family had to come to terms not only with the fact that his illness was sadly incurable but that it had most likely resulted from being exposed to asbestos whilst at work.

“Even in the 1950s and 1960s employers knew the risks associated with asbestos but Mr Smith was not provided with a face mask or warned of the dangers.

“In order to gain justice for Mr Smith’s family, we are seeking additional information from anyone who worked for British Rail at either Coventry or Nuneaton Old Goods Yards between 1947 and 1960 and would ask them to come forward to assist us with our enquiries.

Anyone able to help can contact Satinder Bains at Irwin Mitchell on 0370 1500 100 or email satinder.bains@irwinmitchell.com