Mansfield council says it was 'diligent' after coroner rules mould could have contributed to tenant's death

Eather Avenue, Mansfield Woodhouse
-Credit: (Image: Google)

A Nottinghamshire council said it continues to be saddened after an investigation into the death of one of its tenants concluded. Jane Bennett died aged 52 on June 8, 2023, at King's Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield due to acute exacerbation of non-specific interstitial pneumonitis.

Mrs Bennett lived on Eather Avenue, Mansfield Woodhouse, in a bungalow owned by Mansfield District Council from October 2022 until her final hospital admission in May 2023. She identified severe mould in her property, with an inquest hearing into her death on Friday, June 21, at Nottingham Council House, being told that the mould was "really fluffy and looked like a carpet".

Coroner Elizabeth Didcock concluded that mould could have been one of the factors that led to Mrs Bennett's condition, but said not enough evidence was presented to rule mould as a probable cause for the disease. Another possible factor could have been Mrs Bennett's history of vaping.

Jill Finnesey, Assistant Director of Housing at Mansfield District Council, said: “We continue to be deeply saddened by the death of Mrs Bennett and extend our sincere condolences to her family. Following the narrative verdict by the coroner on 21 June 2024, the council seeks to emphasise the following statement made during her conclusion: There was no evidence to support the claim that mould was the primary cause of Mrs Bennett’s death due to acute interstitial pneumonitis.

"The coroner emphasised that she did not have any issues with the council’s handling of Mrs Bennett’s case. This was based on the evidence from a mould expert and fungal tests by the hospital and pathologist, all of which were negative.

"On the balance of probability, the coroner said neither medication, vaping, or mould were probable causes and were instead possible causes that together can’t be completely ruled out. The coroner welcomed our response to the prevention of future deaths report as well as other measures we had put in place, including inspections of neighbouring properties.

"In this case, the council was diligent and proactive in carrying out appropriate works on Mrs Bennett’s property during her short tenancy to help minimise any risk to her health and wellbeing. The council takes its role as landlord and tenant health and wellbeing very seriously."

Previously, a Prevention Of Future Deaths report was issued by another coroner for Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, Neema Sharma, in November 2023.

The coroner said: "I am concerned that mould in Mrs Bennett’s property and other properties in that area owned and maintained by Mansfield District Council may pose a risk that future deaths could occur. I ask for the aforesaid properties to be inspected for mould and action be taken to ensure any further exposure to mould by any tenant is minimised."