MYSTERY surrounds the death of an 85 year old retired painter and decorator who could not recall ever coming into contact with asbestos but died from a cancer caused by the deadly mineral.

Thomas Williams from The Dormers, The Folly, in Moreton in Marsh, died from malignant mesothelioma - a lung cancer for which the only known cause is asbestos exposure.

It usually affects people who worked with the substance decades before they started to develop symptoms.

Gloucester Coroner's Court heard today that Mr Williams died after suffering a cardio respiratory arrest at his home on July 5 this year.

He had been diagnosed with Malignant Mesothelioma last June after suffering breathlessness on exertion. In May of this year his condition deteriorated and he became increasingly frail, later moving into palliative care.

A post mortem confirmed the diagnosis and the presence of asbestos related pleural plaques with over 31,000 fibres per gram of dry lung tissue, 13,636 of them coated. The inquest heard these were levels consistent with asbestos exposure.

Unable to give an industrial related disease conclusion without specific work history confirming asbestos exposure, Assistant Coroner, Caroline Saunders recorded a narrative conclusion that read, "Mr Williams died of natural causes contributed to by asbestos.

"Although he worked in an occupation normally linked to asbestos exposure he cannot recall any specific occasions he was exposed but died from the effects of asbestos."