AN inquest heard how as, a young apprentice, a Southampton marine engineer would often put asbestos piping in his mouth as a pea shooter and fire it at other apprentices during “asbestos wars”.

Winchester Coroners’ Court heard how Ronald Dyer, of Weston Lane, was often exposed to the carcinogenic substance during his career throughout the 1950s ’60s and ’70s.

In a statement taken before his death, the 81-year-old said he was first exposed as an apprentice at JI Thorneycroft in 1951 when preparing ship valves.

Later in his career Mr Dyer worked aboard ships which contained asbestos lagging as well as working on turbines that also contained the substance which, he said, would

hang in the air like a snowstorm.

Mr Dyer died on April 28 at Countess Mountbatten Hospice in West End.

A post-mortem revealed that Mr Dyer had asbestos-related lung cancer which had spread to his kidneys and spine.

Coroner Grahame Short concluded Mr Dyer had died as a result of industrial disease.