Two accused of conspiracy to murder

The jury in the trial of a Clare woman and a former Las Vegas poker dealer accused of conspiring to kill the woman’s partner and his two sons have heard that the prosecution believe they have an “overwhelming” case against the two accused.

The jury in the trial of a Clare woman and a former Las Vegas poker dealer accused of conspiring to kill the woman’s partner and his two sons have heard that the prosecution believe they have an “overwhelming” case against the two accused.

Sharon Collins (aged 45), of Ballybeg House, Kildysart Road, Ennis and Essam Eid (aged 53), an Egyptian man with a Nevada address have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to kill P.J., Robert and Niall Howard between August 1, 2006 and September 26, 2006. Ms Collins also denied 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.

Counsel for the prosecution, Mr Tom O’Connell SC told the jury of eight men and four women that the defences put forward by Mr Eid and Ms Collins were “confabulations and lies” and they would hear technical evidence of a trail of emails and phone calls between the two which show the progression of the conspiracy.

Mr O’Connell said that on August 2, 2006 a Yahoo email account was set up for lyingeyes98@yahoo.ie. This account had contact with Ms Collins’ Eircom address and was in correspondence with hitmanforhire@yahoo.com, an account the prosecution believed belonged to Mr Eid.

He said they would hear that, in a series of emails between Lyingeyes and Hitmanforhire in August 2006, a contract was agreed to kill Mr Howard and his two sons for $90,000. In arranging for a down payment Hitmanforhire, using the name Tony Luciano, gave American bank account details for a FedEx payment and the name of Essam Eid.

Lyingeyes identified herself in a photograph of Mr Howard and Ms Collins at a Christmas party as “the devil in the red dress”.

Phone numbers and addresses given in the emails, belonged to Mr Eid and Ms Collins and Hitmanforhire asked for the down payment to be sent to Theresa Engels, Mr Eid’s “wife”.

Lyingeyes stressed that the deaths of the three men who were identified as her husband and his two sons, must look accidental or due to natural causes. Mr O’Connell said that the emails, signed “S” and also “Sharon”, said “I have no conscience about my husband, he’s a real asshole and makes my life hell, but I feel bad about the others.”

Mr O’Connell said Lyingeyes explained that she had no choice in getting rid of the two boys because of the way the inheritance was organised.

She said “I would be a suspect if anything looks suspicious as I will be the one who would inherit. Many think I am with him for his money anyway. He’s a bit older than me.”

Lyingeyes suggested that the two boys could meet with an accident in a car or on a boat and it was eventually agreed that they would be poisoned in their local pub in Kilkee, Co. Clare, where they had a holiday home.

Mr O’Connell said it was arranged that Mr Howard would be killed shortly after receiving the news of his son’s death by pushing him off the roof of the apartment he owned in Malaga in a simulated suicide.

He told the jury that it was the prosecution’s case that these emails were between Mr Eid and Ms Collins.

He said 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.

Mr O’Connell told the jury they would hear that Ms Collins arranged a wedding in Rome in 2005 but Mr Howard backed out. They went to Sorrento where they 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.

He said that on their return Ms Collins told people there had been a marriage and the couple held a wedding “reception” party in November 2005.

He told the jury that 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.

He said that at the time, Mr Eid was working as a poker dealer in a casino in Las Vegas. The jury would hear from Theresa Engels, who would tell them she had married Mr Eid and lived with him and his former wife Lisa Eid in northern Las Vegas.

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, which had been stolen from the family business the night before and also had photographs and details of the Howard family.

Mr O’Connell said that Robert Howard would say that 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 along with Ms Engels. A search of his room found items stolen from the Howard business premises as well as keys to the premises. Mr O’Connell said that the burglary had been an inside job and whoever had been responsible had both the keys and the code to the alarm.

He said that Mr Eid told gardaí Ms Collins had previously been his lover and had paid for him to fly to Ireland with Ms Engels.

Mr O’Connell told the jury they would hear that gardaí searched Mr Eid’s cell in Limerick prison based on information received from the FBI and discovered traces of Ricin powder in a contact lenses case hidden under his bed.

Ms Collins told gardaí that she had not known Mr Eid but told them of a woman called Maria Marconi, who had been teaching her to become a novelist. She said Ms Marconi had visited her in Ireland but said she had no contact details for her and could not name anyone who had met Ms Marconi during her visit.

The trial will start tomorrow before Mr Justice Roderick Murphy and the jury. It is expected to last for four weeks.

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