A cannabis farmer who burned down his council flat after tinkering with the electrics to bypass the meter has been jailed for six months.
Dang Tran, 52, set his home ablaze as his home-made energy abstracting device went into meltdown, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard today.
He tried to deny there were flames blazing from his loft to fireman called to his flat in Frampton Park Road, Hackney, even as smoke bilowed from the roof, the court heard.
But they pushed past him to find a cannabis factory of 109 plants which were two weeks away from producing crops.
A judge accepted the 109 plants were for personal use to sooth Tran’s haemorrhoids.
Michael Morris, prosecuting said: ‘On 1 June this year, at approximately 8.15 in the morning, the London fire brigade was called to the flat.
‘Once at the address, fire officers could see smoke coming from the roof of number 23.
‘As the fire officer was about to break down the door, a male and a female came to the door and they denied there was a fire.
‘The fire officer pushed past the male and went inside, where he could see flames in the loft.’
Firefighters called the police when they saw the cannabis plants, who found that Tang had re-wired the electrics to bypass the meter and nurture the crop.
‘The electricity had been interfered with and heavily modified,’ said Mr Morris.
‘The equipment set up was dangerous with the potential to cause serious damage.’
Tang had set up a range of 600 watt bulbs, fed by an illegal energy supply and smashed the chimney to install a carbon dixoide fan which had been fixed with plastic glue that had melted.
Mr Morris said the light bulbs would have ‘cost a great deal’ to run, but the last bill was normal, though the crops were around three months old.
‘The fire may have been caused by a dangerously installed electrical meter which was driving the extractor fan,’ he said.
‘The flat has now been deemed unsafe because there is no roof left and there’s no ceilings on the first floor because of the fire.
Samantha Griffin, defending said that Tran had turned to cannabis to try to control the symptoms of his angina and haemorrhoids.
The Vietnamese national had come to the UK aged 18, and run several successful small businesses which he later had to give up due to ill health.
He also separated from his wife, the mother of their four children aged between 21 and 32, the court heard.
‘He was vulnerable, he was ill, he was alone,’ said Mrs Griffin.
Tran, admitted producing 109 cannabis plants and abstracting electricity at a hearing on June 2 this year.
The judge Mr Recorder David Whittaker said: ‘This was a relatively sophisticated venture, even though the cannabis was for personal use to alleviate you medical conditions.’
He said: ‘The equipment you were using was self evidently dangerous as it resulted in a fire.’
Tang was sentenced to six months in prison, from which 21 days he had already spent in custody will be taken off.
The judge also ordered that the cannabis and growing equipment be destroyed, and Tang was ordered to pay £425 in prosecution costs.