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Widow of lighting technician who died of mesothelioma awarded settlement
4:58pm Tuesday 30th October 2012 in News
THE widow of a lighting technician who worked on film and TV productions including The Bill, The Sweeney and the Robin Hood movie, has won her battle for justice against his former employers after he died of an asbestos-related disease.
Industrial illness lawyers Irwin Mitchell Solicitors secured an undisclosed settlement on behalf of his family which includes almost £20,000 to cover the cost of his care at The Peace Hospice in Watford.
John O'Donoghue died of mesothelioma, a cancer caused by breathing in harmful asbestos, aged just 64 in February 2011.
He was exposed to the deadly dust in the 1960s in his early career as an electrician before going on to have a hugely successful career as a lighting technician on major films and TV shows produced throughout the UK.
It can take decades for the symptoms of mesothelioma to develop and his work with asbestos was traced back to the 1960s when he was an apprentice electrician at Troughton & Young Electrical (now known as Balfour Beatty Workplace Ltd) and as an electrician at Electrical Installations (now known as Anfield 1 Ltd).
Before his death he instructed Irwin Mitchell to investigate where and why he was exposed to the deadly dust.
His widow Barbara, 65, continued the battle for justice on his behalf and lawyers have now secured a settlement from the two firms to provide her and the family with the financial security John would have provided had he not become terminally ill.
He was very well respected in the film industry and would have continued working long after retirement age on a freelance basis. His widow Barbara said he loved his work and it crushed him when he had to stop.
The 65-year-old, who stopped working herself as a self-employed psychotherapist in 2010 to care for him, said: "He was always the sort of person to keep busy and usually had a DIY project on the go. 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." In the 1960s John worked in and around London on large construction projects such as industrial buildings near Heathrow Airport and several hotels and office blocks. 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, said: "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."
In early 2009 he developed pains in his chest but it was not till the couple had to cut short a holiday in Spain in September 2009 that they realised his illness was serious. More tests in October the same year revealed mesothelioma.
As his illness became worse John was cared for at The Peace until January 2011.
Barbara said: "John received excellent care at the hospice and the nursing staff were all marvellous."