Man called fire crew after failing to put out flames in loft where cannabis grew
Firefighters discovered what they believed to be cannabis
A Street man who called the fire brigade when his loft went up in flames was found to have been using it to grow his own cannabis plants.
Darius Rolls had tried to douse the fire himself without success so was forced to dial 999 and fire crews arrived at his home address.
After the fire was put out firefighters saw what they believed were cannabis plants in the loft area and a further search by police revealed more plants alongside a quantity of the drug and growing equipment.
The 38-year-old defendant, of Brooks Road, pleaded guilty to producing 15 plants of cannabis (class B) at Street on March 29 when he appeared before Somerset Magistrates.
He also admitted being in possession of 25.5g of stalk and leaf cannabis, 29.37g of leaf with flowering head mixed in, 1.8g of stalk and leaf and 16.8g flowering head of cannabis.
The court was told that on the day in question police had a call from the fire service after a loft fire at an address in Brooks Road in Street.
“When officers arrived the fire had been put out but the crew believed they saw cannabis plants in the loft space,” she said.
“The defendant had tried to put the fire out himself before calling the fire service and when the police conducted a further search they discovered more plants in his bedroom and in the loft.”
She said that a total of 15 plants were found, four of them were small between 4 and 8cm, but there were a further 11 larger plants around 45cm high.
The police also recovered a total of 103.57g of cannabis in the house which included the stalks of the plants.
“Rolls admitted the offences when he was interviewed by the police saying he suffered with serious back injuries and used cannabis to alleviate his pain, and it was only as a result of the fire that the police found what he had been doing,” added Miss Lenanton.
Defending solicitor Neil Priest said his client had nothing to do with the onset of the fire, with the cause still unknown, and Rolls had liaised with the fire service himself.
“He admitted at the police station that he was responsible for the production of the cannabis as he has suffered for over 20 years with significant spinal injuries in his back, including numbness,” he said.
“The only reason he uses cannabis is for pain relief and that is supported by the fact that he was growing a special type of genuine medicinal cannabis.”
He said there were only a small number of plants and Rolls was no longer living at that address as he had moved in with his father to help care for him.
The defendant was also on sickness benefits which reflected the level of his physical difficulties.
The magistrates fined the defendant £120 for production of the cannabis with £40 towards costs and a £30 victim surcharge but made no separate penalty for the possession offence.
They also made an order for the forfeiture and destruction of the cannabis and growing equipment.