It only took a little spark to give Joshua Chladek big problems.
And a trip to jail.
On Thursday, before he was sentenced to six months in jail, the 27-year old welder said blowing up his landlord’s house where he was cooking up hash oil in the basement has put him on a better life track.
“I stand here today a clean man,” he told Superior Court Justice William Jenkins, after describing his residential drug treatment for a marijuana addiction.
“I am an addict, that’s what you learn there. . . . I’ve never felt so good.”
Buoyed by support from his wife and family, Chladek said the terrifying explosion on Ilderton Rd. on April 23, 2008 “taught me and made me a better man.”
Chladek, who had no criminal record, had hoped his recovery and commitment to repay his former landlord William Gysbers would be enough to keep him out of jail.
But Jenkins said the case still called for time behind bars.
In a case that even his defence lawyer said could have won “a Darwin award for stupidity” Chladek was ordered to serve time in custody and not receive a sentence to be served in the community.
Chladek pleaded guilty in February to production of cannabis resin and arson by negligence for causing the explosion that destroyed the Ilderton Rd. farmhouse.
Chladek had 32 kilograms of marijuana and 70 cans of butane in the basement where he was cooking up honey oil for personal use by soaking the marijuana “shake” — the leftover stems and leaves of the plant — in the chemicals, then reheating it to produce oil.
For reasons that even Chladek can’t explain, he lit up a cigarette that ignited the butane and blew up the house.
“He just did not anticipate this was going to happen,” his defence lawyer, Andy Rady, told Jenkins.
His wife and two daughters escaped without injury, but Chladek was seriously burned and was in hospital two weeks.
The house had to be demolished.
Rady said Chladek is committed to paying for the damages.
He has strong support from his wife, he said.
There is also a civil suit filed against Chaldek for the loss of the house that was insured for $130,000 and was worth between $200,000 and $300,000.
Assistant Crown attorney Peter Rollings said the circumstances in the case were “serious” and the welder Chladek “should have an acute understanding” that a lit cigarette and open butane cans don’t mix.
While Chladek has worked hard to address his drug issues and has been remorseful, a jail sentence, Rollings said, would send a message to the community that there are consequences “that require people to think before engaging in this dangerous activity.”
Chladek had indicated the large amount of marijuana shake had only yielded three to four ounces of oil.
But federal drug prosecutor Kim Johnson said a police expert put the oil production amount at close to two kilograms.
By Jane Sims
The London Free Press
October 7, 2010