A FORMER aircraft handler based at RNAS Culdrose for 23 years died as a result of asbestos contained in lifesaving equipment, an inquest has ruled.

Paul Williams, from Trenethick Parc in Helston, had malignant mesothelioma (cancer) that is usually associated with exposure to asbestos.

He died at the age of 72 in St Julia’s Hospice, Hayle on March 22 last year.

Coroner Dr Emma Carlyon heard that Mr Williams joined the fleet air arm section of the Royal Navy as an air craft handler in 1956.

After training he was stationed at Culdrose and subsequently served onboard aircraft carriers including HMS Albion and HMS Hermes.

He became a chief petty officer before retiring aged 40 in 1980.

Following his retirement Mr Williams took on the role of operations manager at Land’s End Airport, between 1986 and 2005.

On a benefits claim form filled out in his later years, Mr Williams said he believed the fire fighting equipment that he used and the helmet he wore, as part of his duties during the early years of naval career, contained asbestos.

The lagging onboard ships, in those days, could also have had this material, which might have brought on his condition in later life.

Ms Carlyon recorded the cause of death as being the malignant mesothelioma, as a result of asbestos exposure.