Two men were found to be producing cannabis at a house after the plants were discovered by firefighters following a blaze.

On October 14, 2021, the fire brigade attended a house fire in Branch Road, Burnley, where the defendants, Steven McKeown, 28, and Nathan Cottam, 32, were co-tenants.

After putting out the fire they discovered around 50 cannabis plants in various stages of flowering across three different rooms.

Further plants could have been growing but one of the rooms was damaged by the fire so much it was not possible to ascertain the number that could have been growing in there.

Steven Parker, prosecuting at Burnley Crown Court, said it was likely there were plants in that room due to the presence of metal ducting and drug-related paraphernalia.

A total of 50 plans were found in total; 30 plants were discovered in a rear downstairs room inside a black grow tent, and a further 20 were found in an upstairs rear room.

Both defendants were interviewed and made admissions.

McKeown indicated the grow was for his own personal use while Cottom indicated he knew his co-defendant was growing cannabis and believed it was for his personal use due to his epilepsy.

Both were of previous good character.

Mitigating for McKeown, Barbara Webster said her client had remained out of trouble since the incident.

She added he had been diagnosed with epilepsy in 2019 but due to the pandemic had not seen a doctor face-to-face to be assessed.

Oliver Saddington, for Cottam, said his client had begun to distance himself from those who engaged in drug-related activity.

Sentencing, Sara Dodd said: β€œIn each case I am going to follow the recommendation in the pre-sentence report because the guidelines tell me the starting point in each case is a high-level community order, and also reflect that neither of you have been in trouble before or since.”

McKeown, now of Rodwell Walk, Blackpool, was given a 12-month community order with 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

Cottam, now of Scarisbrick Street, Southport, was also given a 12-month community order, though with 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days.