Saturday 25 November 2017

'I can't believe my Sharon would have me murdered'

Sharon Collins (above) denies
hiring Mr Eid to kill Mr
Howard and his two sons
Sharon Collins (above) denies hiring Mr Eid to kill Mr Howard and his two sons

Abigail Rieley

A MAN whose partner is accused of hiring a hitman to kill him and his two sons has told a jury he found it "very hard to believe" she was guilty.

PJ Howard told Paul O'Higgins SC, defence counsel for Sharon Collins, he did not believe the allegations.

"It doesn't make sense to me at all. It's totally out of character and to be quite honest I find it very, very, very hard to believe."

And as he was leaving the Central Criminal Court yesterday, Mr Howard stopped and kissed Ms Collins on the lips.

Mr Howard had earlier told how Ms Collins had looked after him when he had cardiac problems in 2000.

Ms Collins (45), with an address at Ballybeg House, Kildysart Road, Ennis, and Essam Eid (52), an Egyptian man with a Las Vegas address, have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to kill PJ, Robert and Niall Howard between August 1, 2006 and September 26, 2006. Ms Collins also denies hiring Mr Eid to shoot the three men.

Mr Eid denies demanding €100,000 from Robert Howard to cancel the contracts.

He also denies breaking into the Howard family business at Westgate Business Park and stealing two computers, some computer cables, a digital clock and a poster of old Irish money and handling the stolen items.

Mr Howard said he thought the Iridium laptop on which gardai found emails from "Lyingeyes98@yahoo.ie" to "Hitmanforhire@yahoo.com" had been stolen from his house after a party.

A statement by Special Agent Deen Abbott, an FBI agent who searched Mr Eid's house in Las Vegas was also read to the jury.

Special Agent Abbott said during a search at Mr Eid's house he and fellow FBI agents had seized documents and an address book containing Irish phone numbers and addresses.

Una Ni Raifeartaigh BL, prosecuting, told the jury that among the documents was an email to "tonyluciano2001@yahoo.com", confirming the registration of "Hitmanforhire.us" and giving the computer password Casino.

There was also a message from "Lyingeyes98@yahoo.ie", an address the prosecution says was set up by Sharon Collins. Dated August 8, 2006, it gave the name S. Cronin and an Irish mobile number. The text read "2 male marks in Ireland, usually together. Make it look like an accident. Then possibly a third one 24 hours later. Make it look like suicide."

An email to the Irish consulate asked for a visa for Mr Eid to travel to Ireland in October 2006. The email said Mr Eid was working as a poker dealer and earning $6.50 (€4.20) an hour plus tips. A further email from Tony Luciano to Lyingeyes said a reservation had been made at the Greenhill Hotel in Limerick for August 18. Luciano said he was sending "two women and a man to do that job" and the plan was to poison the "two guys". He asked for cash to be sent and suggested the use of cardiac stimulants, including the poison ouabain.

The trial resumes on Monday.

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