Watford: Man's Justice After Cancer Death

Two former employers of a Hertfordshire man who received hospice treatment for an asbestos-related illness before his death have been ordered to pay almost £20,000 to cover his care costs.

John O'Donoghue, a former lighting technician, was looked after at The Peace Hospice, in Watford, for four months between September 2010 and January 2011 after developing Mesothel Lioma in 2009. John passed away, aged 64, in February 2011 and is survived by his wife Barbara, now 65, and their two sons.

Now lawyers from Irwin Mitchell, acting for his family, have recovered almost £20,000 for The Peace Hospice as part of a settlement from Troughton & Young Electrical, now known as Balfour Beatty Workplace, and Electrical Installations, now know as Anfield 1.

He was exposed to the dust in the 1960s in his early career before going on to work as a lighting technician on films and TV shows including The Bill, The Sweeney and the Robin Hood movie.

His widow Barbara, who lives near Watford, stopped working as a self-employed psychotherapist in 2010 to care for her husband. She said: "He was always very fit and active up until he was diagnosed with cancer and to see him like this was heartbreaking for me and our sons too as they had never seen their dad ill.

John was very dedicated to his work and had a great reputation. It's hard to take in that it was essentially his early career as an electrician when he was exposed to asbestos which has led to his death.

John received excellent care at the hospice and the nursing staff were all marvellous. I'm so pleased we were able to get the cost of his care back so they can help others in similar situations.''

In the 1960s John worked in and around London on large construction projects. His work would involve installing electrical cables alongside fitters who were mixing asbestos to lag pipe work in ceiling spaces.

Shaheen Mosquera, a specialist asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, told Heart: "Despite much of John's work often being in confined spaces he was never warned about the dangers of asbestos or given a facemask to protect him from the dust generated.''

Paul Gauntlett, director of fundraising and communications at The Peace Hospice, said: "We need to raise £3.8m of charitable income each year in order to run and develop our services as all the care we give to our patients and their families is free. This is why we are so grateful that Irwin Mitchell have been able to recover the costs of care provided to John.''

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