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'Lying Eyes' freed from jail after four years -- but told she can't leave country

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Sharon Collins

Sharon Collins

Collins’s former partner PJ Howard.

Collins’s former partner PJ Howard.

The would-be hitman, Essam Eid.

The would-be hitman, Essam Eid.

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Sharon Collins

'LYING Eyes' Sharon Collins, the divorced mother of two who tried to hire a hitman to murder her millionaire partner and his two children, must remain in the country until the end of the year following her release from jail.

Ms Collins was freed from the Dochas Centre in Mountjoy Prison on Monday, having been jailed for six years in 2008 in a case that became known as the 'Lying Eyes' trial.

It had been suggested that Collins (49) would leave her Ennis home in Co Clare and move overseas when she was freed in an attempt to escape public and media scrutiny.

However, under strict conditions as part of her early release, she has to live in the State until December.

The Irish Independent has learned that the Clare woman must sign on at a specified prison once a week for the next three months.

In 2008, Collins was found guilty of conspiracy to murder the successful businessman PJ Howard and his two sons -- who would inherit his €60m fortune -- Robert and Niall, on dates between August and September 2006.

Collins, who had denied that she used the internet alias 'lyingeyes98', was also convicted of soliciting an Egyptian poker dealer to murder the three men. She was sentenced to six years in prison.

Mr Howard, who lived with Collins in his plush home on the outskirts of Ennis, is understood to spend a lot of time in Spain, where he has an apartment and a yacht. He was not at his Clare home yesterday.

At Collins's sentencing in October 2008, Mr Howard stood by the woman who tried to have him murdered -- appealing to the judge not to send his former partner to jail.

"I will not give up on Sharon," he said. "Sharon is, in my opinion, one of the nicest people you could ever have been fortunate to know. A caring, loving and decent lady."

There was also no reply at the home of Sharon Collins yesterday.

It had been indicated that she would leave Ennis to avoid media attention, but for the immediate future Collins must remain in the country as part of strict conditions.

Good behaviour

With remission for good behaviour, Collins -- who has two sons from a previous marriage -- was released last Monday, before her sentence was due to expire in December.

She had previously been granted weekend release and allowed to return to her mother's home in Ennis earlier this year.

Last night, her solicitor, Patrick Moylan said his client had no comment to make. She will officially be a free woman this December.

During the seven-week trial in 2008, the prosecution maintained that Collins was motivated by money and was trying to inherit Mr Howard's €60m fortune, which was set to go to his two sons.

She used the email account 'lyingeyes98' to contact a hitman-for-hire website and paid a €15,000 deposit to have her partner and his sons murdered.

However, the hitman she hired, Essam Eid -- an Egyptian poker dealer -- double-crossed her and tried to get Robert Howard to buy out the murder contract for €100,000.

The Howards immediately contacted gardai and the poker dealer was arrested and subsequently convicted of extortion. He was sentenced to six years' imprisonment.

Collins's sentence was upheld on appeal last year.

Irish Independent