Drug cook blew his rented house apart
A DRUG cook claimed a large explosion, which blew apart brick walls and caused $147,000 damage, occurred when he was melting fishing sinkers on a barbecue at the Springfield home he was renting.
But police investigations reveal the blast occurred because Kenneth Adam Slater was producing methylamphetamines in the house.
It was the second time Slater, who is now living with his parents at Gatton, was caught producing marijuana and amphetamines at Springfield.
Police found 18 marijuana plants and a hydroponic set-up in a tent in the backyard during the first raid on July 29, 2009.
They also found large quantities of iodine, used to make amphetamines, and items consistent with a clandestine lab, including a flask that tested positive for the drug.
Slater was on bail for those offences when his neighbours reported a large blast on March 12, 2010.
The explosion blew the house apart, extensively damaging walls and the kitchen.
Brisbane Supreme Court heard on Monday that the process to make methylamphetamines was under way when the explosion occured.
The $147,000 repair bill does not include the owners' rental income loss.
Crown prosecutor Bronwyn Currie told the court how the Brisbane City Council, state health authorities and the Environmental Protection Agency had to conduct tests after the explosion because they feared soil near the house had absorbed the dangerous chemicals used to produce the drugs.
She said they feared the chemicals would enter the water table and affect drinking water in the area.
Police found instructions for producing the drugs during both raids.
Justice David Boddice said the explosion could have killed not only Slater, but his partner and his neighbours.
"It was extremely fortunate no one was killed in that explosion," he said.
"Brick walls were actually blown apart."
But Justice Boddice said he could see Slater's growth and progress since getting treatment for his drug addiction and his mental health problems, including bi-polar.
He sentenced Slater to five years jail but immediately released him, noting the 213 days he had already served.
The balance will hang over his head for five years.
Defence barrister John Fraser had argued his client could be released immediately because he had not reoffended in 2.5 years, had three clean urine tests this year showing his dedication to rehabilitation and had been employed for 14 months.
"The offending here is based on his addiction," he said.
"There no suggestion of a commercial enterprise."