Joshua Allen, the eldest son of well known chef Rachel Allen, is appealing a two-month prison sentence he has received following his conviction for minor drug possession.
Mr Allen (21) of Ballinamona in Shanagary, Co Cork is on bail pending the appeal, which followed his conviction for possession of €280 of cocaine in East Cork.
He had pleaded not guilty to a charge that on July 10th, 2020 at the Pontoon, Midleton, Co Cork he had unlawfully in his possession a controlled drug, namely cocaine contrary to the Misuse of Drugs Act.
At a sentencing hearing in Midleton District Court on Thursday Judge Alex Gabbett said that Mr Allen had been released from Cork Prison in May 2020 in relation to a previous offence and “within five weeks” the possession case arose.
He said that the seriousness of the matter was compounded by the fact that Allen has failed to accept responsibility for possession of drugs at the Pontoon. He stated that the Probation Report also indicated that Mr Allen was at a “high risk of reoffending.”
Don Ryan, solicitor for the defence, said that his client was making huge strides in his life - particularly over the last number of months. He told the court that Allen was training five days a week in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) as well as completing two days a week of farm work. He has also set up his own stone carving business after finding that he has a “flair” for such craftsmanship.
Mr Ryan said that Allen had cut ties with anyone involved in drink and drugs.
“He has cut all of that out of his life. He couldn’t be doing what he is doing if that was in his life. He is doing well. He has made huge efforts. He is following up with Cuan Mhuire (Addiction) aftercare by Zoom on Saturdays.”
Mr Ryan emphasised that the “Covid situation was very alive” when Mr Allen was released from prison and that the normal follow up with the Probation Service wasn’t available. However, a representative of the Probation Service refuted this suggestion saying over the phone supports were available at that time.
Mr Allen is now engaging in counselling. Mr Ryan said that Allen was channelling all his energy in to martial arts and stone carving.
“He has done a lot over the last six to nine months. He is getting orders (for his stone carving).
Judge Gabbett said that Mr Allen put himself in a position of being caught with drugs when he was “out on a licence with a year to serve.”
He said that this wasn’t “wise” and that the Probation Service indicated that Allen had a difficulty with conforming to rules and testing boundaries.
Looking at the stone carving portfolio put together by Allen Judge Gabbett said that he undoubtedly had a flair for the work.
“It is the first time in his life that he has put himself to some degree of productivity. Unfortunately for him, he finished education at 15. He has made certain strides. But I don’t accept that probation services weren’t available. He has an enormous amount of support.”
After Judge Gabbett sentenced Mr Allen to two months in prison Mr Ryan entered an appeal and the young man was released on bail on his own bond of €400.
Meanwhile, the conviction is a triggering offence in respect of an outstanding suspended sentence over a previous drugs matter.
Mr Allen’s case will now be listed for September 7th next at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. The court will rule on a 15 month suspended sentence which Allen faces from a previous and separate 2019 cannabis conviction.
Mr Allen has six previous convictions for drugs related offences all arising from a single incident two years ago.
Mr Allen had received a 15-month custodial sentence with 15 months suspended at Circuit Court level in 2020 after he pleaded guilty to possession of over €22,000 worth of cannabis for sale and supply.
The case for which Mr Allen received a two-month sentence for today involved an incident at about 11.25pm on July 10th, 2020 in Midleton. He had entered a not guilty plea in relation to this offence and still maintains his innocence.
Det Garda Kieran Crowley previously told the court that a complaint was made about noise at the Pontoon. He was in a patrol car and went to investigate with other gardai.
He found about 40 young people gathered at the Pontoon. He saw a man who was standing with two females. As he approached the young man, who he identified as Allen, walked away and discarded a plastic item in long grass.
Mr Ryan maintained that because of the poor lighting his client was wrongfully identified as having drugs in his possession.
Judge Gabbett said that Det Garda Crowley was a "very experienced garda" who "saw what he saw." He convicted Mr Allen of the drugs possession following a lengthy hearing earlier this year.