A man who, with his brother and father, was allegedly the subject of a contract killing has told a jury in the Central Criminal Court he was told to hand €100,000 to a woman he met in a local hotel to cancel the hit.
Clare woman Sharon Collins (aged 45), of Ballybeg House, Kildysart Road, Ennis and Essam Eid (aged 52), an Egyptian man with a Las Vegas address has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to kill P.J., 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 Mr 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 then handling the stolen items.
Mr Robert Howard told prosecution counsel Mr Tom O’Connell SC he received a phonecall from the man who had called to the house he shared with his brother the previous night and offered him the chance to buy his family out of the contract.
Mr Howard said the man, who called himself Tony, rang him twice on September 27, 2006, the day after he had appeared at the house.
He got the first phonecall at around 12.15pm. “He asked what time are you finished work and had I started getting the money together. I just said, the usual time.”
“Tony” called again at about 4.45pm and suggested a meeting at the bus station to hand over the money. Mr Howard refused. They agreed to meet in the Queens Hotel at around 5.15pm.
Mr Howard said he had been in touch with the gardai over the day and when he arrived at the hotel the gardai knew he was there.
He received another call at about 5.40pm telling him meet a lady in the toilets “in which she would count the money.”
At first he refused but was advised by gardai to go and meet the woman. She was late 40s, early fifties with black hair and wearing a leather jacket.
“She said have you got the envelope? I said have you got the computer.” Mr Howard had previously told the jury that the offices of his family business had been burgled on September 25 and a desktop, a laptop, computer cables, a digital clock and a poster of old Irish money had been taken.
“At that stage a plain clothes garda officer came in through the lobby and she took off.”
Mr Howard said he had not met the woman before that day but thought she had walked past him as he was waiting in the bar.
He identified the computer cables, clock and poster when they were shown to him and also identified a white jacket and dark baseball cap with a logo saying US Open 2000, as clothes “Tony” had been wearing when he called to the house. He also identified a set of keys that “look like the keys to the office”.
The trial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice Roderick Murphy and the jury of eight men and four women. It is expected to last for four weeks.