A man who set fire to his caravan on his drive which destroyed a neighbour’s car was heavily intoxicated at the time, a court heard.

Graham Batty has no recollection of how or why he started the blaze but accepts that he was responsible for starting it.

When police arrived at the scene, a search of his property revealed he had set up his own cannabis farm and growing paraphernalia was also found.

Nigel Soppitt, prosecuting, said the 47-year-old was caught on CCTV leaving his home and getting into his caravan just minutes before it went up in flames.

Teesside Crown Court heard how a fire officer who inspected the scene believed that the fire was started on the upholstery before spreading throughout the caravan and then causing extensive damage to the neighbour’s car and property.

Mr Soppitt said: “The neighbour’s car was severely burned as well causing it to be written off.

“The neighbour was awoken by the emergency services but smoke had already started to enter his home.”

In a victim impact statement, the man said the loss of his car had resulted in him having to take time off work and had impacted on his insurance costs.

Mr Soppitt said the Darlington man's 40 cannabis plants and growing paraphernalia were recovered from the defendant’s home and specialist police officers believed it was his second crop that he was producing.

The Northern Echo: Graham BattyGraham Batty (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Batty, formerly of Barden Moor Road, Darlington, pleaded guilty to arson and production of cannabis following the event of December 22, 2021.

Philip Morley, mitigating, said his one-legged client was growing the cannabis to self-medicate as he suffered chronic pain after having one of his legs amputated.

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He added: “He does accept being the person responsible for the fire, he was heavily intoxicated that night.

“He went out to his caravan but he can’t recall how or why it happened. He had no desire to burn down his own caravan or cause damage to next door’s car.”

Recorder Thomas Moran accepted that Batty was growing the cannabis to fulfil his own needs after having his leg amputated before sentencing him to 17 months in prison for both offences.

“For some reason you decided to set fire to your own caravan. You must have known it was near your neighbour’s car and as a result his car went up in flames as well,” he said.