April 2007

Chef’s child porn shame revisited

CELEBRITY chef Tim Allen will have to re-live his child porn shame this week when a TV documentary details how he downloaded 977 sick pictures of kids.

Mr Allen, who is believed to be back living with wife Darina at the famous Ballymaloe House cookery school founded by his mother, is likely to avoid the television screen tomorrow night when his spectacular fall from grace is featured on an episode of Irish language show Scannal.

Sources say that the Allens never speak about the Operation Amethyst investigation which resulted in the chef pleading guilty to downloading images which featured children as young as five in sickening sexual poses.

Friends say that Darina Allen still believes her husband was treated unfairly and singled out for special media attention during the case. “It is never mentioned in Ballymaloe. Tim moved out for a while but over the past few years he has been at the estate more and more. Last year he pretty much moved back in,” a source said. “It is never spoken about and Darina is still annoyed about the whole situation and feels she and Tim were treated unfairly.”

A top Garda who headed the operation says few of those arrested gave any clue that they were interested in child porn. Det Insp Michael O’Connell said 500 members of the force had to be specially trained on the best ways to search for pictures before the 6am operation was launched on May 27, 2002.

“The logistics of the operation were huge. We had to brief individuals on what to look for. We had to keep them briefed on the best practice on searching for information in relation to child porn. Operators of computers downloading child porn can be quite devious and secretive in how they download and where they store the information. So we had to brief them on best ways of carrying out searches and locating the concealed information. In most cases there were no tell-tale signs.”

Amethyst was launched after a couple in the US were arrested for running the world’s biggest internet child porn business. When police there trawled through their records they found a customer list which included more than 80 names in Ireland.

One of those was Allen who was holidaying in Italy when gardai raided his famed Ballymaloe home in Cork. It subsequently emerged that, over the phone, he led Darina to a plastic bag full of sick pictures he had hidden in his office.

Allen pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 240 hours community service after agreeing to pay ?40,000 to a children’s charity.