A retired engineer died after being exposed to asbestos during his working life, a coroner has ruled.

John Anthony Lomax passed away at his home on October 3 last year after a short battle with cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

The 80-year-old, of Mayfield Avenue in Bolton, was given three months to live by doctors but died just seven-and-a-half weeks after his diagnosis.

At an inquest held on Wednesday, June 22, Bolton Coroner's Court heard how Mr Lomax worked for more than 20 years as a heating engineer, repairing boilers for mainly schools, where he handled asbestos regularly.

He removed asbestos from boilers, fixed the faulty parts then refit new asbestos during the 1960s to1980s when the dangers of asbestos were relatively unknown.

Dr Zafar Chowdhary, of Stonehill Medical Centre, saw Mr Lomax before his death.

He told the court: “Mr Lomax was referred to us with abdominal pain. An asbestos-related illness was established and he was sent home with oxygen support.

“After this, he deteriorated significantly and had regular home visits and help to keep him comfortable.

“During this time he has symptoms such as constipation, shortness of breath, abdominal pain and was in the care of Macmillan.”

Pathologist at Royal Bolton Hospital, Dr Ravindra Sawant. said he believed the cause of death was "malignant mesothelioma".

Mesothelioma is known to be a rapid disease and Mr Lomax was thought to be very late in his diagnosis.

Mr Lomax first worked at Ellesmere Engineering, then at a Bolton company and then in his last few years before he retired between 2000 and 2006, he co-owned Kenton Heating.

His niece, Louise Gregory, cared for him and paid tribute to Mr Lomax, who the family called Tony.

She said: “Uncle Tony was such a perfectionist in his field and many people who he had done work for said that his workmanship was impeccable.

“Uncle Tony, you were one in a million, the best uncle around and will be truly missed by all of us.”

Professor Alan Walsh, Area Coroner, concluded Mr Lomax died of an industrial disease – malignant mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure.

He told the court said: “I accept the cause of death was malignant mesothelioma and from the evidence given by the doctors, that the level of fibres taken in his lungs was so significantly elevated and attributable to exposure to asbestos.

“It was after his exposure to asbestos that he died of an industrial disease.”