The chef husband of one of Ireland’s best-known TV cookery show presenters was today given a conditional nine-month suspended jail sentence for possessing up to 1,000 computer images of children, some as young as five.
Tim Allen, aged 52, who is married to celebrity chef Darina Allen, of the Ballymaloe Cookery School, in Co Cork, pleaded guilty in Midleton District Court to a charge connected with a nationwide gardai investigation of child pornography.
He admitted possessing pornographic material under the terms of the 1980 Child Trafficking and Pornography Act.
Father-of-four Allen’s home was one of more than 100 addresses throughout the Republic raided by gardai last May in an internationally-linked move against Internet child pornography activities, codenamed Operation Amethyst.
Yesterday Circuit Court judge Brian Curtin faced a similar charge in court at Tralee, Co Kerry. The proceedings against him were adjourned until April 30 after the court was told that he was unwell.
A college lecturer and two members of the Garda Siochana police force are also currently facing charges relating to child pornography.
Allen’s wife and children arrived with him at Midleton District Court in, Co Cork today.
Detective Sergeant Brian Goulding told the court that in the raid on Allen’s home at Ballymaloe, police seized 3 computers and recovered almost 1,000 pornographic images of children, some as young as five and some engaged in sexual activity. A number of the children were of Asian and eastern European origin.
Allen said he had come to the court “making absolutely no excuse” for his behaviour. He was horrified at what he had done and it had brought considerable shame on both him and his family, and wrecked his credibility.
Allen also said he accepted the kind of activity he had been involved in “did untold damage to young people“.
Clinical psychologist Dr Tony Humphreys said Allen had sought help from him about his problem about six weeks before the raid on his home.
The jail term was suspended by District Court Judge Michael Pattwell on condition that Allen was found suitable to carry out community service and paid €40,000 to a children’s charity. He said he would rule on the sentence later.
The judge also said he was very well aware that children were being exploited by pornography. And if any good could come from the case, it should be that neglected children would benefit.
And he referred to “an obnoxious element of this case, the fact that children had been exploited for sexual gratification“.
Mr Allen told the court he was horrified by what he had done.