A Masterton man whose cannabis operation was exposed when smoke was seen coming from his house has been convicted of possession and cultivation of cannabis.
James Fredrick Hannon, 28, a labourer, appeared in Masterton District Court on Thursday and pleaded guilty to the charges.
On June 20, just after 1pm, the fire service were called to an address on Manaia Rd, Masterton as smoke was seen coming from the roof of the house.
Hannon was the sole occupier and tenant of the house but was not present at the time.
While extinguishing a small fire in one of the rooms, firefighters observed a cannabis growing operation and notified police.
Police invoked statutory search power under the Search and Surveillance Act.
A scene examination revealed a spare room converted into a hydroponic cannabis plant growing operation, complete with an electric powered hydration system, indoor lighting and a number of electronic transformers.
Extractor fans, ducting and plant nutrient containers were also located in the room.
Police discovered more than 30 plants, at various stages of growth, throughout the house.
They also located a plastic container holding 75 grammes of dried cannabis.
In the bedroom they found more dried cannabis, some packaged in snaplock "ounce" bags weighing a further 177 grammes.
When spoken to about the growing operation, Hannon admitted it was all his and said he had been growing cannabis for about nine months.
In explanation he said he was a daily user of the drug.
Police said they believed the fire was started by the makeshift wiring and heating used to nurture the plants. Firefighters were able to contain the fire within minutes but said they believed the house was only moments from being engulfed.
Defence lawyer Ian Hard said it was Hannon's first offence.
Judge Michael Behrens called for an alcohol and drug assessment and made an order for the destruction of the plants and paraphernalia.
Hannon was remanded until August 22 for sentencing.