Sentencing in the case of Joshua Allen, the eldest son of well known chef Rachel Allen, on a minor cocaine possession charge has been adjourned until September.
At a hearing in Midleton District Court in Co Cork in May, Judge Alec Gabbett deemed the facts proven after Mr Allen (21) was charged with being in possession of €280 of cocaine in East Cork.
Mr Allen of Ballinamona in Shanagarry, Co Cork had pleaded not guilty to a charge that on July 10th, 2020 at the Pontoon, Midleton, he had unlawfully in his possession a controlled drug, namely cocaine contrary to the Misuse of Drugs Act.
On Thursday at a sitting of the court Judge Joanne Carroll adjourned the matter to allow the sentencing to be presided over by Judge Gabbett who had heard the evidence at the previous hearing.
Judge Carroll was told that a Probation and Welfare Service (PWS) report has now been submitted to the court for consideration. The case was adjourned for sentencing until September 2nd next.
Meanwhile, Det Garda Kieran Crowley previously told the 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 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 ardaí 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.
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 in to 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.
Facts in case proven
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.
He told the court that he walked away as gardai 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.
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 finger print check being carried out in a Section 3 possession case.
Judge Gabbett found the facts in the case proven. Mr Allen has six previous convictions for drugs 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 in February 2020, Allen received a 30-month sentence, 15 months of which was suspended.