The inquest into the death of 27-year-old Luke Brooks concluded on Thursday (10th August 2023).

The inquest was heard over 4 days at North Manchester Coroner’s Court in front of HM Senior Coroner Ms Joanne Kearsley.


Luke Brooks sadly passed away in October 2022, when he was twenty-seven years old. He lived in a privately rented house with his mother and father in Oldham.

The family first moved into the privately rented accommodation in 2014. They immediately encountered problems such as the boiler not working and having no hot water. The central heating system was also faulty and the family were forced to live in extremely cold and damp conditions several times throughout their tenancy.

The family had made several complaints to the landlord about the condition of the property over the 9 years of living there, particularly regarding the mould and damp in the bathroom and bedrooms.

In the few days prior to his death, Luke developed difficulty breathing, a rash, and was very weak.  He contacted several healthcare providers for advice who told him he had a viral infection. Luke’s mother, Patricia, tried to get Luke an appointment at the GP but she could not get him seen.

On the 25th October 2022, Luke woke up as normal but minutes later he started to have a seizure. The family responded immediately by dialling 999 with paramedics and air ambulance arriving 15 minutes later. Sadly, Luke was pronounced dead the same day.

Findings of the Inquest

The Coroner found the cause of death as:

1a) Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

1b) Aspergillus Pneumonia

The inquest heard evidence from a number of experts, professionals, family members and Oldham Council.

Pathologist Dr Ganifrockwala who carried out Luke’s post mortem told the court that both of Luke’s lungs were heavy (double a normal weight) with frothy secretions seen in the right upper and lower lobes. Secretions were also expressed from the bronchioles.

Histological examination of the lungs confirmed the presence of bilateral bronchopneumonia as well as evidence of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

The other significant finding from the post mortem examination was seen in the histology samples taken from the lungs. In addition to pneumonia and ARDS, there was presence of, ‘fungal hyphae and spores morphologically in keeping with aspergillus infection’.

Dr Ganifrockwala explained that the presence of these spores led him to believe this was an aspergillus fungus infection. He told the court that the presence of aspergillus is likely to have made the lungs more susceptible to the infection and associated pneumonia.

The inquest also heard from Professor Malcolm Richardson, who is an expert on moulds and fungi and their effect on health. He examined the family home in April 2023 and he could not therefore offer evidence as to what mould, if any mould was present in the home in October 2022.

He explained that aspergillus needs vegetation such as compost, rotting leaves or mouldy food. It is not the black mould which is regularly associated by the general public as relating to health issues.

Aspergillus is also found in dust which was described as a ‘perfect environment’ for aspergillus.

Professor Richardson’s examination of the home in April 2023 revealed very little aspergillus within the property. He explained in his evidence that there are many sources of aspergillus, with HM Senior Coroner exploring whether there is any link between cigarettes, cannabis and aspergillus.

Professor Richardson said that contamination can come from roll up cigarettes and there is some evidence examining a link between cannabis and aspergillus but this cannot be proven.

He also explained that aspergillus does not ‘grow readily in a damp house, it requires vegetation’.

The court heard that over the course of the weekend of the 22nd – 23rd October, Luke had contact with the NHS’s 111 service. One of his calls led to an outcome that a category 3 ambulance was appropriate. Luke and his mother declined this and also confirmed that he was not well enough to go to A&E himself.

During the contact with 111, Luke expressed that he was experiencing chest pains and asked if he could go to A&E himself. The call handler advised that he couldn’t and he should wait for an ambulance. This is due to a local policy which meant people with chest pains should be advised to not attend A&E themselves.

After hearing the evidence, the Coroner found that whilst the property within which Luke resided needed some repairs, neither the disrepairs nor any damp caused or contributed to his death.

Luke spent the majority of his time in his bedroom which was in an unsanitary condition. Luke also smoked roll up cigarettes and used cannabis. Due to these factors it was not possible to determine the source of the aspergillus.

The Coroner confirmed that she would be issuing a Prevention of Future Deaths report to the Government regarding the proposed ‘landlord registry’. This would ensure that there was a central register which contains contact details of any private landlords. The Coroner is also writing a report on the advice given to patients in 111 calls who express symptoms of chest pains, by services across the country.

The Coroner, at the end of her findings, acknowledged to the family that the property did need many repairs but explained that those disrepairs did not play a part of Luke’s sad death.

This is another case which has highlighted the living conditions in rental properties in modern day Britain, following on from the tragic case of Awaab Ishak.

Luke’s family issued a statement at the conclusion of the inquest which can be read here.

The family were represented by Kelly Darlington of Farleys Solicitors and Christian Weaver of Garden Court North Chambers.