Joshua Allen remanded in custody as judge reviews full file on case

Darina Allen tells court she believes her grandson has ‘turned a corner’

The 22-year-old son of celebrity chef Rachel Allen has been remanded in custody until Friday as a judge said she wanted time to read the full file on his case prior to deciding whether to activate a 15-month suspended sentence for drug offence following his conviction on more recent charges.

Joshua Allen of Ballynamona, Shanagarry, Co Cork was back before Cork Circuit Criminal Court to firstly appeal the severity of a two-month term imposed on him by Judge Alex Gabbett at Midleton District Court for possessing €280 worth of cocaine at Pontoon, Midleton on July 10th, 2020.

He was also contesting the reactivation of a 15-month suspended portion of a 30-month sentence imposed by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin at Cork Circuit Criminal Court in February 2020 for possession of €22,000 worth of cannabis for sale or supply at Ballymaloe Cookery School on August 30th, 2018.

State solicitor for south Cork, John Brosnan, said Allen’s conviction for the possession of the €208 worth of cocaine was a triggering offence for the activation of the 15-month suspended sentence for the cannabis offence as it happened within the period for which that sentence was suspended.

Defence barrister Donal O’Sullivan BL pleaded for leniency, saying his client was a very immature young man when he committed the first offence while he was also immature when he was caught by Det Garda Kieran Crowley with cocaine which gave rise to the second conviction.

He produced a letter which he read to the court from Allen’s grandmother, celebrity chef Darina Allen, in which she told how she believed her grandson had learned some vital lessons and was determined to turn his life around and away from abusing alcohol and drugs.

“In my opinion, Joshua has turned a corner. In late 2020, he discovered boxing and mixed martial arts, for which, according to his local trainer, he has a natural talent. The discipline of intensive training five to six times a week has had a positive effect and given him a real focus,” she said.

“Josh knows that he has made many mistakes and he has told me that he realises all his troubles have been caused by the misuse of drugs and alcohol – he has disassociated himself from his former contacts and is determined to turn his life around.”

Ms Allen said that through a combination of focusing on mixed martial arts, helping out at the Ballymaloe Farm and trying his hand at stone carving, she believed her grandson had the potential to put the errors of his way well and truly behind him.

“He has told me how much he regrets his actions and with the benefit of hindsight, he is acutely aware of the folly of his ways, and he tells me is determined to continue on the path that he is now on,” said Ms Allen in the letter read out to the court.

Mr O’Sullivan said that as proof of his client’s determination to turn his life around, he had been undergoing urine analysis with his GP in east Cork to see if he had consumed any drugs and he had eight such urine sample results since last September which showed he was drug free.

Det Garda Aidan Dardis said Allen had not come to Garda attention since his most recent offence, and he was no longer on their radar for drugs offence though he was potentially facing drug driving charges after being stopped in Dungarvan, Co Waterford in May 2022.

However, Mr O’Sullivan said his client would strenuously deny he was driving under the influence of drugs and he said his client was adamant that analysis would show he was drug free at the time as the urine samples submitted to his own GP showed he had been drug free for eight months.

Judge Berkeley said Allen was entitled to a presumption of innocence in relation to that matter but what did concern her was the conviction for possession of cocaine as it came within just weeks of his release from prison after serving 15 months with remission on the supplying cannabis charge.

She said it was also a concern to her that it appeared from reports that he had engaged fully with drug addiction services while staying at Cuan Mhuire in Athy in Co Kildare and seemed to be making some good progress and yet engaged in cocaine abuse within weeks of leaving the centre.

Mr O’Sullivan again stressed that his client had been very immature when he committed both offences, but he had gained a new maturity in the past nine months or so and now with a focus in his life thanks to his interest in MMA, he had turned a corner as his grandmother had indicated.

Judge Berkeley said she wanted some time to read everything on Allen’s file and she wanted time to reflect on what was the best course of action for the court to take and she adjourned the matter until July 1st and remanded him in custody until then.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times