Celebrity chef had cocaine and LSD - Court told

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A top celebrity chef - who starred in the BBC’s ‘Great British Menu’ - has been given a suspended jail term for possessing cocaine, LSD and cannabis.

Eddie Attwell (30), whose address was given as Belfast Road, Antrim, appeared at the town’s Magistrates Court on Tuesday for sentencing on two counts of possessing Class A controlled drugs and one charge of possessing Class B drugs.

Attwell, head chef at St Kyrans Country House hotel in Virginia, County Cavan, previously worked at Ardtara Country House in County Londonderry.

Attwell, who had a previous record, was detected with the drugs in the vehicle he was driving which pulled up at a police checkpoint at Dundrod Road near Antrim town on February 22 last year.

A defence lawyer said Attwell had been taking drugs to cope with the pressure of being a chef but that his employer is supporting him in getting counselling which has seen him free Class A drugs for four months.

A prosecutor said Attwell was driving a car stopped at 12.30am in which a co-accused, Janine Branagh (28), of Coolnasilla Park West, Belfast, was a front seat passenger.

She was in court with Attwell and was sentenced for possession of cannabis on February 22 and possession of cocaine between February 20 and February 23 last year.

The prosecutor said police noted a smell of cannabiis from the vehicle which was searched and Attwell told officers there were drugs in the back of the vehicle.

The prosecutor said Branagh said she had “snorted” cocaine earlier that evening. Further drugs were found in a bedroom belonging to Branagh.

The defence lawyer said full admissions were made that drugs were in the car which included a small amount of Class A, five squares of LSD worth £5 and two ounces of cannabis for personal use.

The lawyer said Attwell was employed as a chef in Cavan and had been working long hours that week.

The lawyer said the drugs were “a coping mechanism for stress” connected with the “pressurised environment” in which he worked but that Attwell’s employer was supporting him and the defendant was getting weekly counselling and has been to see his GP.

The defence lawyer said Branagh had a previously clear record and she is currently setting up an online business.

Imposing two months jail terms on each defendant, suspended for a year, District Judge Oonagh Mullan said they were both “educated people” and warned them if drugs was a “lifestyle choice” they would have to “face the consequences”.