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Plymouth Pensioner’s Search For Ex-Workmates Following Asbestos Illness Diagnosis

Victim Begins Battle For Justice


A Plymouth pensioner, who has been diagnosed with an asbestos related illness, is hoping his former workmates will come forward with key information to help in his battle for justice.

71 year old Henry John Smith was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis and Pleural Thickening, an illness linked to asbestos exposure, in October 2009. It is believed that Mr Smith may have been exposed to asbestos dust whilst working as a steel fabricator in Plymouth between 1954 until 1973.

Mr Smith, who is married, with two children and two grandchildren, worked for more than 13 years at St Aubyn Engineering Company.  Mr Smith mainly worked in newly built commercial properties fabricating and installing steel staircases and handrails.

Helen Grady, a Workplace Illness expert with Irwin Mitchell Solicitors’ Bristol office, is representing Mr Smith. She said: “Mr Smith’s doctors have confirmed that he is suffering from an asbestos related disease. Even as far back as the 1930s, employers were aware of the dangers of asbestos, yet in many cases, little was done to protect workers.

“It can take upwards of 20 years from exposure to the onset of symptoms so we are now seeing the legacy of decades of asbestos exposure suffered by thousands of workers.

“In order to gain justice for Mr Smith and his family it is important to obtain further information about working practices at St Aubyn Engineering and any of its sub-contracted work sites during the 1960s and 70s. We do know that Mr Smith worked on a number of large developments during his time with St Aubyn’s, including the construction of several large hotels in Plymouth, such as the Holiday Inn, as well as the city’s SWEB building, Plymouth Power Station, local stores and office blocks.

“We are hoping that Mr Smith’s work colleagues will have recollections which help us to successfully settle the case.”

Mr Smith commented: “I recall one occasion when I was working on a large old factory on Coxside. The work involved contractors having to pull down the old part of the factory and ripping off an asbestos sheet roof. The dust that came off them covered everything and was still in the air days later. I did not have a face mask so would have inhaled a lot of the dust fibres.

“Although no amount of money will compensate me for the loss of my health, I feel it is important to fight for justice. I now suffer from breathlessness and have to use inhalers several times a day. Doctors have confirmed the illness is as a result of being exposed to asbestos and I feel very angry that I was not properly protected during the 1960’s and early 1970’s by my employers.”

Anyone able to assist should contact Helen Grady at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors on 0370 1500 100 or email helen.grady@irwinmitchell.com