Whitehorse man who sparked fire with basement meth lab gets 30 month sentence

A 24-year-old Yukon man will spend the next two years in a federal penitentiary for making methamphetamine at his mother’s house.

A 24-year-old Yukon man will spend the next two years in a federal penitentiary for making methamphetamine at his mother’s house.

Trevor Medham pleaded guilty to producing methamphetamine on Tuesday.

He was caught when his clandestine drug lab started a fire in the basement of his mother’s home in Riverdale on Feb. 21.

After extinguishing the fire, city firefighters realized it wasn’t a typical house fire.

They found “suspicious chemicals,” said Crown prosecutor Kristina Guest, as well as Coleman camping fuel containers, discoloured bottles, tubing, ventilation, and signs of intravenous drug use.

“Mr. Mendham made an admission to emergency responders he had produced methamphetamine and he had used methamphetamine earlier in the day,” Guest told the court.

It appeared Mendham used the “one-pot method” where all the ingredients are combined into a container, then shaken to produce a chemical reaction.

According to information posted by the government of West Virginia, that method results in a pressure build-up in the container, which can explode.

That day, Mendham tried to put out the fire by himself around 1:20 a.m., before waking up his mother who called the fire department.

A specialized team from B.C. flew to Whitehorse to confirm the setup was in fact a meth lab.

An expert from Health Canada later confirmed meth had been produced at the residence.

With all the ingredients present, there was enough to make about 34 grams of meth, Guest said.

She said Mendham wasn’t charged with trafficking because it was clear he made the drug for his personal consumption.

There was no evidence of packaging at the scene or profits from sale, she said.

Mendham also pleaded guilty to charges of theft and breach of probation.

On June 1, he stole $25 worth of lithium batteries, which are an ingredient in methamphetamine, from the Real Canadian Superstore.

An RCMP officer recognized him, and Mendham tried to escape by wading into the Yukon River up to his neck before turning back. Mendham was on bail at the time.

When searched, he was found in possession of a cellphone, which was prohibited by his bail conditions.

Crown and defence agreed on a joint submission of 30 months for the drug charge, with concurrent sentences for the theft and breach charges.

The Harper government’s changes to the Criminal Code established a minimum of two years in prison for possessing schedule I drugs (including meth).

With credit for the time spent waiting to enter a plea, Mendham will have a little over two years to serve.

He could have requested his sentence be set at two years less a day, meaning he would serve it in the territory, but his lawyer Melissa Atkinson told the court he had instructed her not to.

Mendham himself addressed the court, barely audible and his voice shaking.

“I can’t help myself,” he said.

Atkinson added his client said he was an addict.

“He is feeling a bit emotional right now,” she said.

Mendham has been struggling with drug addiction for the past seven years, she told the court.

He has a limited work history and didn’t finish grade 12.

While at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, he took substance abuse management programs.

Judge Peter Chisholm highlighted the danger of making meth when rendering his decision.

“The chemicals that are used are dangerous and can be explosive,” he said.

“Although it’s hard not to have some sympathy for Mr. Mendham in terms of his addiction, nonetheless the gravity of this offence is high.”

Mendham will also be prohibited from possessing firearms and explosives for 10 years.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at

pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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