Friday 6 December 2019

Lying Eyes' partner in crime loses bid to have jail term cut

Nicola Anderson

IT was "about as unusual" a case as had ever been heard in the State, "coming from the souks of Cairo, to the gaming halls of Vegas via The Queen's Hotel in Ennis", as counsel for Essam Eid marvellously put it.

But was it a tale of a two-bit Vegas poker dealer with a neat line in menacing extortion or just a simple buffoon chancing his arm?

In the end the Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) agreed with the original findings of the trial and Essam Eid (54) lost his appeal yesterday against the severity of a six-year jail term handed down to him for demanding money with menace.

Earlier, the three-judge court reserved judgment in an appeal brought by Eid's co-accused, "Lying Eyes" Sharon Collins, against her conviction for soliciting a hitman to kill her lover PJ Howard and his two sons.

The CCA indicated there would be "some delay" in giving a judgment in the case of Collins, who had been found guilty of three counts of conspiracy to murder, and it may not be delivered until the next legal term.


However, at the opening of the two-day appeal hearing on Thursday, the State conceded it was not possible to "stand over" her conspiracy conviction, as it was "logically unsustainable".

Eid's defence counsel, David Sutton, at first appeared to be doing a good job of painting his client in the light of a loveable rogue who proved to be nothing more menacing than an "eccentric middle-aged man".

"It was buffoonery of the highest order," said Mr Sutton -- there were "no guns, no dead bodies" and it was all over in 24 hours.

Una Ni Raifeartaigh, counsel for the State, said she hated to pour cold water on Mr Sutton's "love of the comic" but begged to differ, pointing out that the Howards had not seen the funny side of this affair and had been genuinely frightened.

In court Eid had looked in better physical shape than he had done throughout his trial, having had several operations at the expense of the State.

And for a brief moment, he sat at the end of the bench from his erstwhile partner in crime. But, as during his trial, she never even glanced at him.

During lunch, Collins's elder son, Gary -- who had been sitting in an unobtrusive corner of the courtroom -- joined his mother and handed her an envelope with "mammy" written on the outside. It was a card for Mother's Day.

Mr Sutton told the court that Eid was having a difficult time settling into jail, spending a lot of time in his own cell and that everything he'd built up had gone. "His wives," Mr Sutton explained helpfully, his voice giving emphasis to the plural.

"What?" asked Judge Joseph Finnegan in some confusion. "His wives," Mr Sutton repeated as the court tittered and even Eid smiled.


Eid, who has no previous convictions, has already served the bulk of his sentence, and with good behaviour is likely to be released in March 2011.

Refusing the appeal yesterday, the court held that while Eid could be described as an "incompetent and unprofessional" criminal, the incident "must have been very upsetting" for the two brothers.

Earlier, the CCA heard there was "a mountain of evidence" to prove Sharon Collins solicited a person to kill the Howards.

Irish Independent

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