Tuesday 16 January 2018

Collins dresses to kill for court appearance

Ciaran Byrne

SHARON Collins came into court yesterday with a novel tucked under her arm but she made sure nobody could see the title. Bodice-ripper? Airport novel? We'll never know. Court 22, the venue for her appeal against six years in jail for soliciting a hitman to murder her partner and his two sons, didn't need it anyway.

Within minutes, the room was treated to a reminder of why her trial was more akin to something out of the movie 'Goodfellas' than a cheesy Mills & Boon novel.

Famously, her internet callsign was "lyingeyes98" and she had sought the services of a man on a website called www.hitmanforhire.com.

Laughably, the man said his name was Tony Luciano. In reality, he was an Egyptian poker dealer living in Las Vegas.

"Is that Lu..ci..an..o?" inquired one of the three Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) judges, Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan.

"Have I added an extra vowel?" he asked defence counsel Brendan Grehan. "No, Luciano is correct," Mr Grehan responded.

Collins solicited Essam Eid to kill her partner, wealthy businessman PJ Howard and his two sons.

Collins, her trial had heard, wanted his money and had Fed Exed $15,000 (€11,000) to the Egyptian "hitman".

Looking purposeful yesterday, she had dressed for the occasion -- black heels, black trouser suit, white blouse and her blonde hair swept tightly up. Small pearl-effect earrings finished it all off.

One of her sons, Gary, greeted her in the witness box, brushing her cheek with his hand and offering a quiet word.

Meanwhile, the man she had conspired to kill stared at her from across the court. Mr Howard never wanted Collins to go to jail and still hopes to see her set free.

He looked every inch the wealthy businessman. Shades perched on his coiffed silver hair, check shirt, yachting-style blazer.

At Collins' sentence hearing, Mr Howard had appealed for the judge to spare his former partner from jail. "I will not give up on Sharon," he said at the time, pleading for a suspended sentence.

"Sharon is, in my opinion, one of the nicest people you could ever have been fortunate to know. A caring, loving and decent lady."

Collins (46) sat in the witness box yesterday, staring intently at the judges and lawyers as they spoke. She didn't look at Mr Howard.

Irish Independent

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