A dad who secretly grew a cannabis farm in his attic put his family in danger when fire broke out, a court was told.
Flames took hold in the roof of Robert Collinge’s Great Harwood home where he had tampered with the electrics to help him grow 38 cannabis plants.
At the time, Collinge was living there with his former girlfriend and two children who managed to escape the blaze unscathed.
Collinge, 29, was spared jail after a judge heard that his crop had not thrived.
Handing him an eight- week suspended prison sentence, Judge Jonathan Gibson said he could ‘just’ spare Collinge from jail.
He said: “This was a serious cultivation of cannabis but the gardening was not very good.
“You were found out because of the fire and it demonstrates how dangerous it is to set up electrics like this when you don’t know what you are doing.”
Prosecutor Stephen Parker told Burnley Crown Court that firefighters found 38 cannabis plants in the attic of Collinge’s home, on Windsor Road when fire broke out at 10am on October 14, 2013.
When firefighters entered the house they found the attic door had been blocked and discovered 11 cannabis plants at full maturity, 27 smaller plants and a number of items including bottles of plant feed and a pipe to abstract the smell of cannabis, Mr Parker said.
Fire officers said the electricity had been bypassed, which had caused the fire which could have ‘quite easily’ taken hold and spread to neighbouring properties if it was left any longer, the barrister added.
Collinge, now of Bear Street, Burnley, told police he had been producing cannabis for his own use since late August.
He pleaded guilty to cannabis production and abstracting electricity.
Daniel Prowse, defending, said the cannabis plants were ‘unlikely to thrive’ and Collinge had set up the operation purely for his own use.
He said: “He is no longer in a relationship.
“It’s a proper punishment. He has had to learn the hard way.”
Collinge was sentenced to eight weeks in prison suspended for 12 months with 100 hours’ unpaid work and £300 costs.