Joshua Allen, the eldest son of celebrity chef Rachel Allen, has been sent back to prison for seven months arising out of two drugs offences, with the sentencing judge warning the "penny has not dropped" for the 22-year-old in getting his life properly on track.
Allen, of Ballinamona, Shanagarry, Co Cork, appeared before Cork Circuit Criminal Court on Monday where he was appealing a two-month sentence he previously received after being convicted for the possession of €280 worth of cocaine in July 2020.
The offence occurred just five weeks after Allen was released from custody having been found in possession of €22,000 worth of cannabis for sale and supply in August 2018.
Allen had received a 30-month sentence, with half of it suspended by a judge in February 2020. However, his re-offending was a triggering offence and Allen came before the court last Monday so Judge Sarah Berkeley could make a determination on whether he should go back to prison.
She remanded Mr Allen in custody until Friday and said she was particularly concerned about two drug driving cases facing Allen involving incidents in Dungarvan, Co Waterford and Midleton, Co Cork.
Having considered reports relating to Allen, on Friday, Judge Berkeley said he had been given every opportunity to turn his life around.
She described cocaine as being a serious drug but stressed that Allen had been given every chance to desist from using it.
"Cocaine is a serious drug and has taken over from cannabis and the country is awash with it,” Judge Berkeley said, adding that a custodial sentence was required for the triggering offence of possession of cocaine.
Judge Berkeley sentenced Allen to 12 months in prison, but suspended the last five months on condition that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour in the 12 months after he is released from custody.
He was also ordered to comply with the directions of the probation and welfare service post-release, including providing random urine samples to show he was drug free.
Judge Berkeley noted that Allen had the advantage of coming from a supportive family background.
"He has always had a supportive family. He has been given every chance to desist. He has had every support available to him."
Meanwhile, earlier this week defence barrister Donal O'Sullivan said hat his client vehemently denied both drug driving allegations. He stated that Allen had turned his life around through work and was training in MMA five-to-six times a week.
Allen's grandmother, acclaimed chef Darina Allen, had also written a letter to the court in which she said she believed her grandson had turned a corner. She appealed for leniency in the case.
She stated that in late 2020, her grandson discovered MMA and boxing which had given him a new focus.
Mrs Allen said he also works on the family farm in Ballymaloe, Co Cork and is willing to do anything that is required of him.
He is determined to turn his life around.
"I know he has made mistakes but he realises all his troubles have been caused by issues with drugs and alcohol He has disassociated himself from his former associates and he is determined to turn his life around.
"He has told me how much he regrets his actions and, with the benefit of hindsight, he is acutely aware of the folly of his ways. He is determined to continue on the path he is now on."
At the hearing on Monday, Judge Berkeley asked defence barrister Donal O'Sullivan why Mr Allen had left school at 15. Mr O'Sullivan said the teenager had set his own boundaries and had meandered without purpose for some time.
Mr O'Sullivan said his client had been immature but was now starting to make improvements in his life.
"He had an aimless life from the age of 15-20. He is no longer aimless and loves his sport and working. He is beginning to mature and the maturing process takes time, but he has matured and grown up."
Allen has been submitting urine samples to his GP for testing since September 2021 and has received eight clear tests to date.
Mr O’Sullivan said Allen had found some structure from life and has the support of his family.
In making her decision on Friday, Judge Berkeley said she had a number of concerns, including the fact that Allen had reoffended just six weeks after being released from prison.
She also said the urine samples given to his doctor were of limited value to the court as they were not randomly taken.
The judge said Allen had also been given the opportunity to avail of residential drug treatment in Cuan Mhuire, Co Kildare for three months.
Judge Berkeley added that the treatment course, which began on November 2019 when Allen was in jail on remand, was then incorporated into Judge Sean O’Donnabhain’s sentence imposed in February 2020.
Allen was released from prison on June 3rd, 2020, having effectively spent just four months in jail.