A FAMILY has won tens thousands of pounds in compensation after a Bicester man died of asbestos related cancer.
Peter Wilkins died in March 2010, aged 82, four months after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer.
He had started a compensation claim against his employer builders’ merchant Jewson, in Launton near Bicester, before his death.
After he passed away his siblings took on the legal case, and now more than two years later they have finally won their battle.
Solicitor Brigitte Chandler confirmed the family won an out of court settlement of £70,000 against Jewson, now trading as United Builders Merchants Ltd, SGDB Property Holdings and Meyer 9 Ltd.
She said the cancer he was diagnosed with was “almost always” caused by asbestos.
Mr Wilkins had worked on the family’s farms, Widnell Farm, near Piddington, and later in Long Herdon, Marsh Gibbon, until he was 49. After his father sold up he went to work for Jewson in 1976.
Ms Chandler said the mill where he worked had an asbestos roof and sides and Mr Wilkins, who never married, frequently had to repair them.
He also had to cut asbestos sheets to size for customers, saw asbestos guttering and sell asbestos pipes and water tanks, without wearing protective clothing, she said.
Mr Wilkins, one of nine siblings, had complained of feeling unwell in 2008, but only went to the doctor after problems with his breathing.
His sister Laura Harbour, 80, of Twyford, near Bicester, felt it was a shame he did not live long enough to benefit from the payout. She said “He was told he had mesothelioma when he had a scan at the hospital. They said it was due to asbestos.
“It wasn’t until he went to Harefield Hospital and they told him he didn’t have long to live, he just gave up, he didn’t eat.”
Mrs Harbour said the hospital encouraged Mr Wilkins to make a claim. She said: “I didn’t think he was going to go that quickly and that he would benefit from it, but he didn’t.
“He could have had a lot more enjoyment out of life if he had survived to have the money.
“He wasn’t bitter, he never bore a grudge against anyone.”
Ms Chandler, of Wantage firm Charles Lucas & Marshall, believes Jewson could face more claims as it sold a number of of products containing asbestos between the 1950s and 1980s.
She said: “Sadly Mr Wilkins’ case is typical of what is happening now.
“Asbestos was widely used in the building industry in the 1960s and 70s and people who worked in the industry are now suffering as a result.
“The number of people dying from asbestos cancer is expected to peak in the next few years.”
Jewson declined to comment or reveal whether it had any other similar claims pending.