A NORTH-EAST Parkinson’s disease sufferer, who was robbed of her husband’s care by his untimely death from asbestos-related cancer, has won a record £500,000 in damages.

Carol Devoy, 65, of West Rainton, Houghton-le-Spring, County Durham, told the High Court in London she lost far more than a spouse when her devoted husband, Alexander, died an agonising death from mesothelioma two years ago.

Had Mr Devoy – a former chief engineer – lived, he would have shouldered the main burden of caring for his wife, who needs support due to her Parkinson’s disease and a painful spinal condition, Judge Michael Reddihough was told.

Yesterday, the judge recognised her loss when he awarded Mrs Devoy £500,726 damages for her loss. The payout is believed to be a record in such a case.

The North-East has one of highest death rates in the UK for mesothelioma and many similar claims from people who worked in shipyards, mines and factories, where asbestos was widely used, are now going through the courts.

Asbestos-related diseases – including mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer – are believed to kill at least 3,000 people a year nationwide.

It can take anywhere from 15 to 60 years after first exposure before the development of a fatal disease.

Mrs Devoy had to give up her career as secretary when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 13 years ago.

According to her counsel, Christopher Melton QC, Mr Devoy was his wife’s constant and devoted companion and carer and the two were “unusually close”.

She told the court: “If Alex had still been alive he would have continued to look after me. He was always on hand in the house.”

Mrs Devoy sued shipbuilders, William Doxford Ltd, for whom her husband worked as a fitter between 1955 and 1959, and Stuntbrand Line Ltd, for whose predecessors, Clan Line Steamers Ltd, he worked between 1960 and 1970.

During both periods of employment he was exposed to asbestos or asbestos dust and neither defendant contested liability in the case.

By far the largest part of the award – more than £360,000 – was for the loss of the care and other services Mr Devoy would have provided to his disabled wife had he lived.