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Dingwall man admits growing cannabis after suffering burns in explosion which caused £30,000 of damage

Kevin Dwenger
Kevin Dwenger

A north man has admitted growing cannabis after equipment used in the operation caused a huge explosion which left him badly burned.

A terraced property on MacRae Crescent in Dingwall suffered about £30,000 worth of damage in the blast on Sunday, February 2, last year.

Inverness Sheriff Court today heard about the impact on two men in the property at the time, who required specialist treatment in a Livingston burns unit.

One of the men, Kevin Dwenger of Burns Crescent in Dingwall, admitted producing a controlled drug and culpable and reckless conduct when he appeared before Sheriff Margaret Neilson.

The 40-year-old had his sentence deferred until May 5 for a background report, and his bail was continued.

However Sheriff Neilson warned Dwenger that he could well find himself jailed.

Fiscal depute David Morton told the court that firefighters were called out on the evening in question after the gas explosion blew out the ground floor windows and patio doors of the house.

He said: “On arrival, there was smoke and flames coming from the rear of the property.

“Dwenger identified himself to the firefighters, saying that he was the occupant.

“He was described as having cuts, bruises and obvious burns to his abdomen.

“On entering, firefighters observed a large quantity of butane gas canisters in the kitchen, with various jars and dishes each containing what they believed to be herbal cannabis. There was significant damage to the property.

“The ground floor windows and the patio doors were completely blown out and lying in the garden.

“A non-retaining internal wall was displaced in the explosion, the entire ground floor wiring and the kitchen had to be replaced.”

Police maintained a presence at the house in the days after the blast.

He added: “The cost to the landlord to reinstate the property was £28,048, £25,000 of which was met by his insurance company”.

The court heard that there was a small cannabis cultivation upstairs and Dwenger had been involved in trying to extract oil from the herbal cannabis using the gas canisters.

Mr Morton said: “The gas is likely to have built up within the small kitchen space and an unknown item or appliance sparked the explosion, 200 grams of cannabis were ultimately recovered.”

He added that the second individual went to Raigmore Hospital later that day and was treated for upper limb burns on multiple areas of his back, his right hand and nostrils.

Defence solicitor advocate Neil Wilson asked for a background report as his client’s previous convictions ended in 2010 and his previous jail sentence was in 2007.

Witnesses at the time told how one man was burned down one side of his face and arm after the blast rocked the community.

One local resident – who had lived in the street for 50 years – described how he could see flames coming from the kitchen just moments after “a loud bang”.

Meanwhile, a fellow resident spoke of the horrific injuries inflicted on the occupants of the house.

He said: “About 6.10pm I heard the smoke alarm and I called the fire brigade. I took a walk up and the guy was standing outside on his phone. All his hair was burnt, the right side of his face and his arm and his t-shirt was all burnt. He was quite badly injured.”

Two fire appliances from Dingwall were sent to the scene alongside police and paramedics.

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