A Westport man whose cannabis grow room went up in smoke when his Russell St home burnt down earlier this month has been convicted of cultivating cannabis.

Ian James Moss, 52, appeared in the Westport District Court last week where he admitted cultivating cannabis.

Police prosecutor Don Abbey said Moss was at his rented home at about 5.30pm on October 17 when the fire broke out. Moss claimed it began when he was distracted and left a pot of food cooking on the fire unattended.

While firemen worked to extinguish the blaze, they located a cannabis grow room and alerted police, Abbey said.

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There were lamps, a tent, a fan and about 20 cannabis plants about 1m in height. The plants appeared to be "near harvest", Abbey said. Everything was destroyed in the blaze.

At the time, Moss said the cannabis was for personal use only.

Judge Robert Murfitt asked Moss how long he'd been using cannabis. Moss replied he'd smoked for 40 years - since he was 13 years old.

Judge Murfitt described the fashion in which Moss lost his crop as "dramatic".

He also noted Moss hadn't had a conviction since 2001.

"You've been a citizen who's lived under the radar for 15 years."

Because of that, he felt a "modest" community work sentence was appropriate, he said.

He convicted Moss and sentenced him to 60 hours' community work.

- Westport News