Joshua Allen to serve 7 months in prison over drug possession charges

Judge Sarah Berkeley said that she has every sympathy for Joshua Allen on a personal level and recognised he had addiction issues

The 22-year-old son of celebrity chef, Rachel Allen has been returned to prison to serve a total of seven months after a judge was told that he was caught with cocaine for his own personal use within five weeks of being released from jail from a sentence for drug dealing over €22,000 of cannabis.

Joshua Allen of Ballynamona, Shanagarry, Co Cork had been remanded in custody last Monday by Judge Sarah Berkeley to allow her to read the full file on his case and on Friday at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, she finalised the matter when she sent Allen back to prison for a total of seven months.

Judge Berkeley first affirmed a two-month sentence imposed on Allen by Judge Alex Gabbett at Midleton District Court on July 6th, 2021, when he found him guilty of possessing €280 worth of cocaine at Pontoon, Midleton on July 10th, 2020, contrary to Section 3 of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

She also reactivated 10 months of a 15-month suspended sentence hanging over Allen imposed by Judge Sean O’Donnabhain at Cork Circuit Criminal Court from February 28th, 2020, for possession of €22,000 worth of cannabis for sale or supply contrary to Section 15A of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Allen had pleaded guilty to that offence when he was charged with the drug dealing after officers from the Cork City Divisional Drugs Squad raided Ballymaloe Cookery School on August 30th 2018, and found the €22,000 worth of drugs which Allen had arranged to have posted to him from abroad.

On Monday, defence barrister, Donal O’Sullivan BL pleaded for leniency, saying that his client had matured in the past year.

Det Garda Aidan Dardis told the court that Allen had not come to the attention of gardaí in East Cork for drug dealing since he was caught with cocaine on July 10th, 2020.

But Judge Berkeley heard he had been caught on suspicion of drug driving in both Midleton and Dungarvan in May 2022, and while Mr O’Sullivan had suggested that Allen was denying the charges, he had since told him that he had attended a music festival a week at which he consumed cannabis prior to the incidents.

Mr O’Sullivan re-iterated that his client had matured in the past year and realised he had addiction issues and he was willing to deal with them and, pleading for leniency, he asked Judge Berkeley to consider resuspending the entirety of the 15 months suspended by Judge O’ Donnabhain.

Judge Berkeley said that she every sympathy for Allen on a personal level and she recognised that he had addiction issues in relation to cannabis, but she pointed out that he had got every possible support since he first came before the courts but “it appears that the penny has not dropped”.

She pointed out he had spent just over four months in jail from the 30-month with 15-month suspended jail term imposed by Judge O Donnabhain on February 28th, 2020, and he had gone to a residential drug treatment course in Cuan Mhuire in Kildare for a total of 12 weeks.

That treatment course, which began on November 29th, 2019 when Allen was in jail on remand, was then incorporated into Judge O’Donnabhain’s sentence imposed in February 2020, and Allen was released from prison on June 3rd, 2020, having effectively spent four months in jail.

Yet within five weeks of his release from prison, he was caught with cocaine in Midleton and while he had been giving urine samples to his GP at four to six-week intervals since then that showed he was drug free, they were of limited value to the court as they were not randomly taken.

At the earlier hearing on Monday, Judge Berkeley was given a letter from Allen’s grandmother, celebrity chef, Darina in which she said that she believed her grandson had learned some vital lessons and was determined to turn his life around and away from abusing alcohol and drugs.

Judge Berkeley noted Ms Allen’s letter and said he had got every possible support including a place in a residential treatment centre, but she said Allen clearly had difficulties when there was no structure in life, and she was concerned about the fact that he had since been caught with cocaine.

“Cocaine is a serious drug and has taken over from cannabis and the country is awash with it,” said Judge Berkeley, adding that while she accepted the triggering cocaine offence was for possessing drugs for his own use rather than for dealing, it was still a serious offence that merited jail.

She firstly affirmed the two- month sentence imposed by Judge Gabbett and then reactivated10 months of the 15-month suspended sentence still hanging over him from Judge O’Donnabhain but she suspended the final five months, leaving Allen with a total of seven months in jail to serve.

She made it a condition of the suspension of the final five months of the ten-month term that Allen be of good behaviour upon his release and remain under the supervision of the Probation Service for a year and comply with all their directions including providing random urine samples to show he was drug free.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times