Son dies in family's mouldy home which was so cold 'you could see your breath'

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An inquest is taking place into the death of Luke Brooks (Image: Manchester Evening News)
An inquest is taking place into the death of Luke Brooks (Image: Manchester Evening News)

A man died in a home that was so cold you could "see your breath" and his bedroom had "jet black mould", an inquest has heard.

Luke Brooks, 27, from Oldham, died last October 25 with his mum saying that the house was cold and damp despite having had a boiler fitted - having gone three years without one. An inquest is taking place at Rochdale Coroners Court this week after it was opened in March and heard that Mr Brooks' death had been provisionally linked to a type of mould. But as proceedings resumed on Monday, Coroner Joanne Kearsley called for "no speculation" ahead of the conclusion.

The court heard Mr Brooks lived with friend Chris Haycock in one of two bedrooms at the house, while his parents Patricia and James Brooks also lived there along with a niece Elizabeth and his brother James. Landlords Mark and Alan Sharples did not attend the hearing today.

Son dies in family's mouldy home which was so cold 'you could see your breath' eidexiqreiqtrinvLuke Brooks family pictured (Manchester Evening News)

The court was told the family moved into the house in 2014 and giving evidence, mum Patricia said the family had no working boiler for three years until she arranged for a replacement to be fitted, having failed to get her landlords to resolve it. Asked by Ms Kearsley if they had "no heating at all between 2014 and 2017", Mrs Brooks replied: "Yeah."

She said that even after the new boiler was fitted, the radiators did not work properly, and the house would be cold and damp. "As soon as winter came in, that were it," she said. "It was freezing... when the heating was on it was still cold." The court heard that the family's bathroom had "jet black" mould on the ceiling, while there was also mould present in the kitchen and Mr Brooks' bedroom. Mrs Brooks said a bathroom pipe had been "spraying water all over the place" and the property suffered with leaks.

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She claimed the landlords were contacted about the issues on a number of occasions but repairs would not be done, reported the Manchester Evening News. In 2017 and again in 2021, the family were referred to an organisation called Positive Steps, to assist them with their housing issues. Sandra Santos, senior engagement worker at Positive Steps, visited the home on May 24, 2021, and found it to be in a "poor state of disrepair" -

Son dies in family's mouldy home which was so cold 'you could see your breath'Luke died in October last year (Family handout)

The court heard she contacted the landlord on a number of occasions, but repairs requested were not completed. Ms Santos believed the family "kept their home as clean and tidy as possible", although she had not seen Mr Brooks' bedroom and she did not have permission to enter it.

"Luke had got fed up with the state of the house," Mrs Brooks told the coroner in a written statement and added in court that her son had "stopped letting people in" as he became "embarrassed" by the state of his room. Mr Brooks and "best mate" Mr Haycock also kept three dogs and a cat. Mr Haycock described the state of the house as "broken down", with plaster falling from the ceiling, while his pal had tried to "scrape off" the mould from his room years earlier.

The bedroom was also described as "run down" and "quite untidy", with empty plates and beer cans inside. It was the place where Mr Brooks and Mr Haycock spent 90% of their time, the court heard. Describing the cold inside the house, Mr Haycock said: "The first time we got there you could actually see our breath, it was that cold."

Son dies in family's mouldy home which was so cold 'you could see your breath'Luke's parents James and Patricia (Manchester Evening News)

PC Adam Rogers, who attended the property following Mr Luke's death, also felt the cold inside saying: "It did feel quite a cold house. I do recall at one point being able to see your breath. " He also described being able to "feel the damp on your lungs", while he noticed mould in the bedroom and bathroom.

Mr Brooks' mum insisted her son, a smoker since 15 or 16, had never had a reason to go to the doctors before he became unwell in October last year. She said he "started with the sniffles" about a week before his death and went on to suffer a rash, while Mr Haycock had also been having cold symptoms before her son became unwell.

Mr Haycock said: "It was hard to breathe for him... it was dead heavy and rattly, coughing all the time. He was throwing up when he could, most of the time nothing was coming up."

Son dies in family's mouldy home which was so cold 'you could see your breath'The family's house in Oldham (MEN)

The court heard Mr Brooks had turned down an ambulance on October 23 and said he would try and get a GP appointment the following day, but he was unable to get one. His mum told the court: "He didn’t think he was that serious. I knew it was that serious, but he was one of them, he was hard to convince.”

Mr Brooks told his family on the morning of October 25 that he was starting to feel better but moments later, he appeared to have a seizure in his bedroom. His brother attempted CPR while an ambulance was called for and when paramedics arrived they pronounced him dead.

Mrs Brooks says she had been urging the council to find her somewhere new to live, but attempts to get a new social property had been unsuccessful. Describing her son, she told the coroner: "He was funny, witty, intelligent, clever. There’s nothing bad I can say about my Luke. He was really kind hearted. He would do anything for anyone.”

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The inquest continues.

Stephen Topping

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