The eldest son of well-known chef Rachel Allen has been found to be in possession of cocaine at the Pontoon in Midleton, Co Cork in July of last year.
Joshua Allen of Ballinamona in Shanagarry, Co Cork had pleaded not guilty to a charge that on July 10, 2020 at the Pontoon, Midleton, he had unlawfully in his possession a controlled drug, namely cocaine contrary to the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Det Garda Kieran Crowley told Midleton District Court that a complaint was made about noise at the Pontoon at about 11.25pm on July 10th, 2020. He was in a patrol car and went to investigate with other gardaí.
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 walked away and discarded a plastic item in long grass.
Det Garda Crowley acknowledged that the area was poorly lit.
However, he said he had a torch and was able to identify Mr Allen. He stressed that Mr Allen and the two females were the only people in that particular area where the plastic item was discarded.
Det Garda Crowley searched the long grass and recovered a bag containing a white powder. He sent the bag containing the powder for analysis at the Forensic Science Laboratory and it was determined that it was cocaine with a street value of €280.
He said Mr Allen was "very pleasant and very calm" on the night in question and that he co operated with gardaí. Mr Allen ( 21) denied throwing anything in the long grass.
Mr Allen's solicitor, Don Ryan, said that on the night the alleged offence took place it was very dark. He maintained that because of the poor lighting his client was wrongfully identified as having drugs in his possession.
He said the person who dropped the cocaine "could have been anybody." He expressed concern that a fingerprint check wasn't undertaken on the package found in the grass.
He said when Gardaí arrived the youths gathered there ran away and “anyone of those people could have dropped the item.”
Mr Ryan said Mr Allen arrived at the Pontoon at around 9pm and was having a few drinks in the area. He stressed that his client wasn't intoxicated and Det Garda Crowley confirmed that Mr Allen was sober when he spoke to him.
"He (Allen) in fairness to him provided a voluntary caution statement. He cooperated."
Engineer Philip Doherty checked the lighting in the area of the Pontoon on three occasions. He said there was little or no street lighting from the street coming into the area.
He said that it would be very difficult to see there at night from any sort of distance even with the use of a torch.
Mr Allen took to the stand and denied being in possession of cocaine. He said that Garda Crowley had made a “big mistake” and that he didn’t drop anything.
Mr Allen didn’t recall a torch being directed in his direction. He emphasised up to 50 people were in the area at the time.
He told the court that he walked away as gardaí approached because he felt he shouldn’t be there. He said he wasn’t doing anything wrong but it was his “instinct” to walk away.
He stated that if he was someone who wanted to get rid of drugs he would have put them down his pants.
Judge Gabbett said that Det Garda Crowley was a "very experienced garda" who "saw what he saw." He emphasised he had never heard of a fingerprint check being carried out in a Section 3 possession case.
Judge Gabbett said that he found the facts in the case proven.
He said it was a long hearing for a possession case with the evidence lasting three hours when cases of this type generally take 15 minutes.
He stated Det Garda Crowley had years of experience and that he accepted his version of events. He said he was satisfied that the Garda saw Allen discard the package in the long grass.
The court heard that Allen had six previous convictions for drug-related offences all arising from a single incident two years ago.
Gardai told Judge Gabbett that Mr Allen had received a custodial sentence at Circuit Court level in 2020 for possession of over €22,000 worth of cannabis for sale and supply and had served seven months in prison.
At the sentencing hearing in Cork Circuit Criminal Court last year Allen received a 30-month sentence - 15 months of which was suspended.
Inspector Tony O’Sullivan indicated that today’s case was a triggering offence and that Mr Allen would have to return to the Circuit Court for a possible reactivation of a suspended portion of the sentence he had received there.
A probation report was ordered by the judge. He said he would reserve imposing a conviction in the case until the next court hearing.
Mr Ryan said his client has been attending counselling in relation to drugs.
The matter was adjourned until July 8th with Mr Allen being remanded on bail until his next court appearance.
Joshua is the eldest son of Rachel and Isaac Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery school.
Ms Allen is the author of a number of cookery books and has made television appearances in both Ireland and the UK.