Saturday 25 November 2017

'Hitman' jailed in Lying Eyes case facing extradition

Essam Eid who was jailed for six years for extortion. Photo: PA
Essam Eid who was jailed for six years for extortion. Photo: PA

A former Las Vegas poker dealer jailed for extortion in an elaborate hitman-for-hire scam faces extradition back to the US.

Egyptian-born Essam Eid was sentenced to six years behind bars for demanding €100,000 from a wealthy businessman's son in exchange for not killing him, his brother and their father.

The 55-year-old had been hired on the internet by mother-of-two Sharon Collins, who used the alias Lying Eyes, to find a hitman to kill her partner, PJ Howard, and his two sons, Robert and Niall, in 2006.

The High Court in Dublin heard that Eid is wanted by authorities in the US for conspiracy with his ex-partner to extort money from a woman and intent to extort money with a threat to kill.

The incidents are alleged to have happened on or around September 22 2006 in Los Angeles.

He is due for release on Monday, will reappear before the court next Wednesday.

Eid, who was smartly dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and tie, was arrested by extradition gardai at the Criminal Courts of Justice just before the short hearing.

He is accused of conspiring with his ex-partner, Teresa Engle, to extort money from Anne Lauren Royston, a Los Angeles-area mortgage broker, and also threatening to kill her in a telephone call in return for money.

Sergeant Sean Fallon told Mr Justice Gareth Sheehan in the High Court that Eid replied "no comment" when asked if he knew what the extradition was about.

There was no application for bail and Eid was remanded in custody.

After a seven-week trial which gripped the nation, the former poker dealer was jailed in September 2008 for extortion and handling items stolen from the Howard family business in Co Clare.

He later lost an appeal against the length of his jail term.

Meanwhile, Collins was sentenced to six years for conspiracy to murder and six years for soliciting a man to kill the three.

Her conspiracy conviction was later overturned on the grounds that she could not logically conspire to kill someone on her own.

Collins is still awaiting the outcome of her appeal for soliciting Eid to kill all three.

Their trial had heard the 47-year-old mother made contact with Tony Luciano - otherwise known as Essam Eid - through the website using the email

The hitman and his ex-partner then flew to Ireland to wipe out PJ Howard and his two sons for $90,000 (€63,725), but the scheme backfired and the couple were arrested when Eid landed in the south-west of the country and tried to blackmail Robert Howard to call off the hit.

Investigators told the trial of a mountain of evidence linking the co-accused through emails, adding that Collins had already obtained a fake marriage certificate and got a passport in the name of Sharon Howard in a bid to claim her partner's business and inheritance.

Collins' appeal focuses on the trial judge's charge to the jury, the evidence of Ms Engle, a convicted felon in the US, the evidence of an alibi witness and the treatment of evidence relating to the poison ricin found in Eid's prison cell after his arrest.

Press Association

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