Man's DIY generator in bedroom 'could have killed himself and neighbours'

Dundee Sheriff Court
Dangerous: Sheriff Elizabeth Munro told Charles McKenzie his actions could have proved fatal.

A man who set up a DIY power plant in his bedroom with a generator suspended from his ceiling to power his house "could have killed himself and his neighbours", a court heard.

Charles McKenzie installed the system in his 14th floor flat in Dundee's Dudhope Court after his mains electricity supply was cut off due to unpaid bills.

His plan was uncovered when a neighbour in the flat below called police at 3am because of a "strong smell" of petrol and the sound of drilling coming from upstairs.

Police and firefighters arrived at the scene to find McKenzie's flat filled with exhaust fumes containing deadly carbon monoxide gas from the generator - with McKenzie claiming he had "taken precautions" by opening a window.

They found two cans of petrol sitting by the generator, in the flat where McKenzie regularly smoked.

He could now face a jail term after admitting a charge of culpable and reckless conduct with "total disregard for the safety of himelf and others", which a sheriff said could have proved fatal.

Fiscal depute Lynne Mannion told Dundee Sheriff Court: "He lives alone at the flat and has previously had two heart attacks."In February 2012 his electricity supply was cut off.

"At 3am on the date in question, August 28 last year, police and the fire service were contacted after a neighbour on the floor below stated there was noise of drilling and a strong smell of petrol coming from the flat upstairs.

"Three fire appliances went and on approach there was a strong smell of petrol."There was a strong smell of fumes throughout the flat.

"In a bedroom there was a generator suspended by thin ropes."It was connected to a transformer and a car battery with an extension lead running to the living room. There were two cans of petrol beside the generator.

"It was noted McKenzie was a smoked which would increase risk. The generator gave off exhaust fumes with carbon monoxide."

McKenzie, 55, pleaded guilty to a charge of culpable and reckless conduct with total disregard for the safety of yourself and others and to the danger of the lieges.

Defence solicitor Lee Qumsieh said: "At the time he simply didn't appreciate there was a risk - he now accepts there was one present. It wasn't designed to be a long term solution.

"The equipment cost him about £200. He had taken precautions at the time that he thought were appropriate - he had secured the generator to the ceiling and opened a large window. He will never repeat this again."

Sheriff Elizabeth Munro deferred sentence until October for the case to call alongside another charge that McKenzie earlier admitted.

She said: "Thank goodness the neighbour alerted police - he could have killed himself or the neighbours. Could he not have just paid his electricity bill rather than going to this extent? You are getting too old to be appearing in the sheriff court on this kind of nonsense."

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