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Contract Killings


Thursday, 29 May 2008

Sharon Collins,Ennis and Essam Eid pleaded not guilty to conspiring to kill PJ Howard and his sons, Robert and Niall,

Sharon Collins (45), of Ballybeg House, Kildysart Road, Ennis and Essam Eid (53), an Egyptian man with a Nevada address, have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to kill PJ Howard and his sons, Robert and Niall, between August 1, 2006 and September 26, 2006. Ms Collins also denied hiring Mr Eid to shoot the three men. Mr Eid also denies demanding €100,000 from Mr Robert Howard to cancel the contracts and 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 then handling the stolen items. Counsel for the prosecution, Tom O’Connell told the jury they believed they had an “overwhelming” case against the two accused. They would hear technical evidence of a trail of emails and phone calls between the two which would show the progression of the conspiracy. According to counsel, Ms Collins had moved in with Mr Howard in 1998, some months after meeting him. When his wife died in 2003, she became anxious to marry him but he was reluctant to do so because it would complicate rights of inheritance as he wanted his sons to inherit his assets.
The jury would hear that Ms Collins arranged a wedding in Rome in 2005 but Mr Howard backed out. They went to Sorrento and took part in a church ceremony pledging themselves to each other. However, no marriage took place and documents were signed before the couple left Italy to confirm this. Counsel told the jury they would hear that Ms Collins arranged for a proxy marriage, legal under Mexican law, which she used to get an Irish passport in the name of Sharon Howard.
Mr Eid had been identified by Robert and Niall Howard as the man, calling himself Tony, who arrived at their house on September 26, 2006. He had a laptop computer, stolen from the family business the night before and also had photographs and details of the Howard family. Robert Howard would say Mr Eid demanded €100,000 to cancel the contract on him, his brother and his father.
Mr Eid was arrested when he turned up to collect the money the next day and was caught in a garda sting operation. A search of his room found items stolen from the Howard business premises as well as keys to the premises.
The trial will continue today before Mr Justice Roderick Murphy and the jury.

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