A NURSE whose £10,000 cannabis farm caused an explosion at his own house has been spared jail.

Gary Holmes accidentally blew up the kitchen of his home in Croft when attempting to produce cannabis oil in order to relieve his chronic spinal pain.

But the 58-year-old was spared an immediate prison sentence yesterday after admitting arson and production of cannabis, in what a judge described as a ‘highly unusual combination of circumstances’.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service were called to Holmes’ home on Heath Lane shortly after 3pm on Friday, September 28.

Warrington Guardian:

The scene of the blast on Heath Lane - picture by Google Maps

While the defendant had managed to put out the reported blaze with a fire extinguisher before three fire engines arrived on scene, 33 cannabis plants were found drying out in the garage of the property.

A further 13 sealed food bags filled with cannabis - a haul which was valued at £10,350 alone - were found in the kitchen.

Holmes was found outside the rural, semi-detached house having suffered minor burns.

The former accountant and psychiatric nurse had packed cannabis plants and butane gas into two metal tubes in the kitchen in an attempt to extract cannabis oil, having watched instructional videos on the subject on YouTube.

Warrington Guardian:

Holmes, pictured right with his hood up and walking with the aid of a stick, outside Liverpool Crown Court

Investigators believe that the butane had leaked out of these tubes, with the gas then being ignited by the fridge turning on - causing an explosion.

Firefighters remained on the scene for more than two-and-a-half hours, with Cheshire Police also attending the incident.

The blast caused structural damage to Holmes’ kitchen, with the windows and brickwork being blown out.

But the adjoining property was not damaged, while the neighbours were out of the house at the time of the explosion.

Holmes - who walked with the aid of a stick in court - had grown the cannabis for personal use for pain relief, having suffered a back injury at the age of 17 which would eventually cause him to take early retirement.

Warrington Guardian:

Holmes leaving court yesterday afternoon

Defence barrister Jeremy Rawson told the court: “He took this step because he couldn’t carry on and he embarked on this cavalier enterprise, taking this stupid risk.

“Prisons are for felons, not for fools.

“This was an accident, and this is a case where you can suspended the prison sentence.”

And judge Neil Flewitt spared Holmes - who has no previous convictions - jail, instead handing him a 20-month prison sentence suspended for a year.

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Sentencing, judge Flewitt said: “Relatively recently, you reached a situation where you found the side effects of your prescribed medication to be intolerable and you looked for an alternative.

“It was at that point that you took a wrong turn.

“It’s only through good fortune that didn’t cause damage to the adjoining property - your neighbours have been charitable and forgiving, and you still have their trust.

“Although you didn’t deliberately set out to cause this damage, you did deliberately grow cannabis - albeit for therapeutic reasons.

“I’m satisfied that you don’t present a risk of danger to the public and his was an isolated incident, one which you’ve learned your lesson from and will not be repeated.

“This is a highly unusual combination of circumstances, and on balance the right course is for me to suspend the sentence that would otherwise be imposed.”

Forfeiture and destruction of the cannabis was also ordered, with Holmes told to pay a victim surcharge.