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Hitman trial told garda had intimidated an alibi witness

A WITNESS in the trial of an Irish woman and a Las Vegas poker dealer accused of conspiring to kill three men has claimed he felt intimidated when questioned by a female garda about giving the accused woman an alibi.

Sharon Collins (45), with an address at Ballybeg House, Kildysart Road, Ennis, Co Clare and Essam Eid (52), an Egyptian man with a Las Vegas address, deny conspiring to kill Ms Collins' partner PJ Howard and his sons Robert and Niall Howard between August 1, 2006 and 26 September, 2006.

Ms Collins also denies at the Central Criminal Court trial to hiring Mr Eid to kill the three men.

Mr Eid denies demanding €100,000 from Robert Howard to cancel the contracts and denies breaking into the Howard family business and stealing a number of goods.

Yesterday builder John Keating told prosecutor Tom O'Connell that a female garda claimed she would have to put him in handcuffs after he had given evidence earlier in the trial that provided a partial alibi for Ms Collins.

Last month Mr Keating told the court that he had been with Ms Collins for much of the morning of August 16, 2006, the date on which she is accused of contacting Mr Eid and asking him to kill the men. The jury has heard that there was significant email and phone traffic relating to the alleged plot that day.


In his earlier evidence Mr Keating told Ms Collins' defence counsel, Michael Bowman, that he had spent the morning with Mr Bowman's client. He said they discussed various jobs that needed to be done at the house she shared with Mr Howard and also discussed putting an extension on her mother's house.

He said Ms Collins did stop off once at the offices of Downes & Howard, the family business, but only stayed a few minutes.

However, he agreed with Mr O'Connell that he had not told gardai about this meeting when he gave them his initial statement.

He said that he was contacted by Ms Collins' elder son, Gary, shortly before the start of the trial. Gary asked him specifically about August 16. He said he agreed to meet Eugene O'Kelly, Ms Collins solicitor in Dublin, to provide a statement. Mr Keating agreed that when he attended the meeting he met Ms Collins who introduced him to Mr O'Kelly and then left. Mr Keating said he was absolutely certain that he had met Ms Collins on August 16 as he had just returned from holiday in England.

He said that he had been intimidated when he finished giving his evidence by a female garda who told him: "John, I should put you in handcuffs."

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He said he had been interviewed for over three hours and was asked a lot of questions.

Detective Garda Therese Flannery told Mr O'Connell that it was her responsibility to marshal witnesses called to give evidence in the trial and bring them to lunch. She said she had gestured holding her hands up as if bound to indicate that they should keep together but had never said the name "John" or used the word "handcuffs".

The trial continues today

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