Joshua Allen was remanded in custody today for a drug-dealing offence at the Ballymaloe Cookery School as the sentencing judge described the probation report as singularly unimpressive.
“On any standards the reports are not impressive to date. Now we have to push the nuclear button,” Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said as he remanded the teenager in custody until November 29.
The judge indicated at Cork Circuit Criminal Court that he would consider defence senior counsel Siobhán Lankford’s suggestion that the accused would go into residential drug treatment on that date. Otherwise, the 19-year-old could be remanded in custody for further consideration of sentencing until the next sessions of the circuit criminal court which do not commence until February 2020.
Once the judge first mentioned the probation report, Ms Lankford said: “It is not particularly helpful.” The judge replied to the senior counsel: “Even by your standards that is an understatement. Coming before the court with a probation report like that only gives me one option.” The contents of the report were not disclosed in court.
Since embarking on drug treatment there was evidence of him relapsing on a number of occasions. But Ms Lankford said a senior drug counsellor said that such relapses were not unusual at the early stages of rehabilitation.
The charge on which Allen came to court was one of having cannabis worth more than €13,000. Its actual street value was €22,000. The crime carries a mandatory minimum sentence unless the judge finds there are exceptional circumstances.
Judge Ó Donnabháin said: “This lad has not matured in the manner I would expect or require of someone coming before the court on such a serious charge. He is knitting his own jumper. I will not let him do that. He is going from the probation service and self-referring elsewhere.”
Compounding matters, he missed two appointments in relation to his drug rehabilitation.
Ms Lankford said: “It is evidence of clear immaturity. He left school at 15.” The judge said: “He has been allowed to knit his own cardigan. It cannot be allowed to continue. It is a serious offence and everyone knew it was a serious offence.”
Detective Sergeant Michael O’Halloran said gardaí were contacted by customs officers about a suspected parcel of drugs at the postal sorting office in Portlaoise. A controlled delivery was made at 4.30 p.m. on August 30, 2018, to Joshua Allen with an address at Ballymaloe cookery school, Shanagarry. Joshua Allen who was 18 at the time signed for it.
“He was observed sitting outside the shop, opening it and looking into it. He was then intercepted by gardaí,” Det. Sgt. O’Halloran said.
Joshua Allen had cocaine for his own use in his wallet and later told gardaí of a small amount of cannabis at his home for his own use too. He was prosecuted on two possession of drugs charges for those. The most serious charge was of having the €22,000 worth of cannabis in the parcel for sale or supply.
Joshua Allen told gardaí this was his third or fourth time getting such a delivery of cannabis through the post. He said it was from a lady in California whom he had met in East Cork. Rather than paying her by Western Union, which he felt could be traced, he travelled to London to pay her €2,000.
Ms Lankford SC said in mitigation: “He had no previous convictions. He co-operated with gardaí when interviewed. Never before has he come to the attention of the courts. He has addiction issues.”
She added that said that since April he had been volunteering in helping with homeless services.
The defendant, from Ballinamona, Shanagarry, is the son of celebrity chef Rachel Allen.
Joshua Allen signed a plea of guilty plea to having cannabis for sale or supply at the famous cookery school.
For the avoidance of doubt, Ms Lankford said this course of action was merely a technical matter.
“Effectively, the charges, to which he is pleading guilty, encompass the other charges. He accepts full responsibility on all of these matters.
“I would ask for a probation report. He is a young man who was not in trouble previously. I would ask for sentencing to go back to enable him to continue with drug treatment. He is attending for treatment. That is continuing apace,” Ms Lankford said.
Judge Brian O’Callaghan remanded the accused on continuing bail until November 8 for sentencing.
Judge O’Callaghan said in relation to the request for a probation report on the accused that the onus was on the defendant to make contact with the probation service for that purpose and to engage with them.
The judge also said that if the accused had evidence of drug non-use in the form of urinalysis then documents supporting this should be supplied by the defence to the prosecution at least four days before the sentencing hearing in November.
Joshua Allen wore a white shirt and navy suit for yesterday’s hearing and was not required to address the court other than to confirm his pleas of guilty to three counts on the indictment.
His previously set bail on his own bond of €500 require him to sign on every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at Midleton Garda Station between 7am and 10pm. He is to reside at his home address at Ballinamona, Shanagarry and had to surrender his passport and undertake not to apply for any new travel documents.
When Inspector Sean McCarthy, formerly of the Cork City Divisional Drugs Squad, gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution on the first occasion at Midleton District Court he said the defendant made no reply to any of the charges.