A woman accused of hiring a hitman to kill her partner and his two sons has denied writing the emails that plotted the killing.
Ms Sharon Collins (aged 45), with an address at Ballybeg House, Kildysart Road and Mr Essam Eid (aged 52), an Egyptian man with a Las Vegas address Ennis 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 denies hiring Mr Eid to kill 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.
Speaking in her own defence Ms Collins told prosecuting counsel Ms Una Ni Raifeartaigh BL that the emails sent from the address email@example.com to Hire_hitman@yahoo.com were shocking.
She said the emails did not reflect the way she felt about her partner, P.J Howard or about his sons.
She said that suggestions in the email that P.J might throw himself from the top of his apartment building in Spain when hearing of the death of his sons was “horrible”.
“I will never get over the shock of this but I certainly didn’t write that. It’s terrible.”
Ms Collins denied she had been the internet user who, on August 2, 2006, had logged into her personal eircom email account within moments of logging into the Lyingeyes account on the Advent computer at the offices of Downes & Howard.
She said she could not comment on the internet searches carried out during this time period as it had not been her using the computer. Ms Collins agreed that she had visited firstchoice.com and the easyJet website in the past but had not on this occasion.
Searches had also been carried out for inheritance rights and information on domestic violence as well as for the word hitman during this period.
Ms Ni Raifeartaigh commented that it was unusually considerate for someone setting up Ms Collins to delete junk mail from her email account.
“Either it’s you or it’s someone setting you up by impersonating the kind of searches and interests that you have then going into Lyingeyes.”
Ms Collins replied: “It’s not me anyway.”
She agreed that on August 8, the user of the Advent computer had visited weightloss websites and ordered the weightloss drug, Reductil, but said that she had only taken Reductil in May and June 2006 and had never re-ordered it.
Ms Collins broke down in tears in the witness box as she gave her evidence. She said she was accused of a “horrendous” crime of plotting to kill people she cared about and this had destroyed her life and those of her two sons.
Ms Ni Raifeartaigh put it to her that she was putting forward a ludicrous theory of an invisible mystery person using the internet in both Downs & Howard and Ballybeg House where Ms Collins lived with Mr Howard.
She told Ms Collins someone had accessed the Fed Ex website on August 15 and 16 on the Iridium laptop seized from Ballybeg House after Ms Collins’ arrest. The user had used the tracking number to check on a parcel containing €15,000 Ms Collins’ says she sent to a person blackmailing her which was sent to Mr Eid’s Las Vegas address.
Ms Collins said the Iridium laptop had been missing from Ballybeg House at the time but Ms Ni Raifeartaigh told her the internet dial up times for the location corresponded exactly with the times the Iridium accessed the FedEx website.
Ms Collins said she had not been the one using the Iridium and she had given the tracking number to the blackmailer.
Ms Ni Raifeartaigh asked her: “Did you notice a blackmailer walking round your house at 8.10 that morning?”
Ms Collins could not explain why emails sent from Lyingeyes to Hire_hitman stopped when she had been visiting the religious retreat at Lough Derg and also when she was in Spain. She also could not explain phone calls between her Spanish mobile phone and a number registered to Mr Eid.
She said she had never called Mr Eid but had made calls to an American number where she had talked to a woman.
Ms Collins denied that she had taken the stand to try to manipulate the jury. “I am not trying to manipulate. I am telling the truth. I have always, always told the truth about this. I am not here to manipulate anybody.”
The trial will continue tomorrow before Mr Justice Roderick Murphy and the jury of eight men and four women, when Mr Eid’s defence is expected to start.