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Monday, 22 December 2014

‘Stupid’ Millom drug grower sparked blaze at house

A CANNABIS gardener has been jailed for three years after his £25,000 plantation was uncovered after a house fire broke out.

Rian Daman Protheroe’s house in Wellington Street, Millom, which he rented under an alias after a previous eviction from the address, was transformed into a cannabis factory, before a fire caused £20,000 worth of damage to the property.

On Wednesday, Lancaster Crown Court heard how Protheroe, 26, had been a cannabis factory gardener – looking after the operation for another man, on the promise of food and accommodation.

But the plantation was unearthed on May 25 last year, after a fire broke out in the house when Protheroe attempted to fix a ceiling vent with a highly flammable sealant canister, while holding a naked flame.

Prosecutor, Mr Roger Baldwin, said police recovered 63 cannabis plants and cultivation paraphernalia, including heat lamps and fertiliser, after the fire was extinguished.

He said: “Forensic scientists described the cannabis farm as ‘fairly sophisticated but unorganised’.

“(Protheroe) entered the loft with the foam to fill the gaps around the air vents. He was carrying a candle, which lit the canister.”

Mr Baldwin said the street value of the cannabis was between £15,000 and £25,000.

Protheroe, now of Green Lane, Whixall, Whitchurch, Shropshire, was released on bail following his arrest, but was stopped a few days later by police, after the car he was driving had been reported stolen from Port Haverigg Holiday Village.

While searching the car, officers discovered a spray canister.

Defence barrister Mr Mark Shepherd said: “He was at the address for a matter of days and most of the equipment was already in situ when he arrived.

“On this occasion he has gone into the loft space and done something incredibly stupid.”

Protheroe, who pleaded guilty to arson and cannabis production, was jailed for three years.

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