A MAN from Seaforth who was growing cannabis in the basement of his home was caught out after a blaze broke out.
Firefighters arrived to tackle the fire and isolated the main electricity unit but unknown to them householder Justin Hodgson had had the basement power supply by-passed putting them at risk of electrocution.
After the fire, believed to have been started by a discarded cigarette, was extinguished police found he had set up two cannabis growing rooms and they discovered 95 plants in pots and a further 224 rooted cuttings also in pots.
Peter Hussey, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court that a police expert estimated the plants could have had a potential crop worth up to £120,000.
Hodgson, of Adelaide Road, pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis and abstracting electricity but claimed that he had just been growing the crop for medicinal reasons and not to sell to others.
A trial of the issue was consequently held and Hodgson, 52, who walks with a stick, told how he had been a roofer but in 2015 fell off a roof breaking about 40 bones and he was prescribed pain killers.
He said that affected his mental health and he used CBD oil but it cost £100 a bottle which he could not afford.
He admitted he had £68,000 debts involving his mortgage and loan for repairs on another property and also owed a loan shark £15,000 but he maintained that the cannabis was just for him to use to ease his pain.
He said he had paid around £1,000 for the cannabis set up, including lights and heaters, and had also paid someone to by-pass the basement meter.
Judge Gary Woodhall jailed him for 26 months. He pointed out that the trial of issue meant he had lost the credit he would otherwise have received and which would have resulted in him receiving a suspended sentence.
He said he accepted that he was growing it to provide pain relief for himself but he did not accept that was the only reason.
Brendan Carville, defending, said that Hodgson has no previous convictions for drugs offences and it was 14 years since his last offence.