Clare woman's 'hitman' trial continues


Someone checked the credit limit on a Clare man’s American Express card from Ireland, while his partner and the Las Vegas poker dealer she is accused of conspiring with to kill him and his two sons were both out of the country, the woman’s trial has heard.

Sharon Collins (45), of Kildysart Road, Ennis and and Essam Eid (52), an Egyptian man with a Las Vegas address, have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to kill P.J. Howard, Robert Howard and Niall Howard between August 1st 2006 and September 26th 2006. Ms Collins also denies hiring Mr Eid to kill 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 then handling the stolen items.

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

Garda Annette Ryan told defence counsel at the Central Criminal Court today that two calls had been made to American Express Card Services on September 22nd 2006 from the offices of Downes & Howard, the property investment business run by Mr Howard and his sons.

Earlier in the trial an investigator with American Express told the jury that an unknown person called the helpline on that date and asked for the credit limit but hung up when they were asked a security verification question.

The jury has also heard that on September 19th, two flights to Ireland on US airlines were charged to the card in the names of Essam Eid and one of his wives, Teresa Engle. A hotel booking was made on the same date.

Garda Ryan told the court today that phone records showed over 70 phone calls between phones related to Ms Collins and those registered to Mr Eid.

She said that location of the calls from Ms Collins’ phones and the individual phones used in the case of mobile phones, corresponded to her movements between Ireland and Spain, where Mr Howard owns an apartment.

A total of seven calls were made from a phone registered to Mr Eid to the mobile belonging to Brian Buckley, an Irish soldier who gave evidence earlier in the trial that he had contacted a website called ‘hitmanforhire’.

Mr Buckley told the jury he had thought the website was a joke but had second thoughts when he was contacted by a man calling himself Tony who asked for “strong poison” to do a job in Ireland.

Garda Ryan said she had not investigated American numbers dialled from the landline in Ballybeg house, where Ms Collins lived with Mr Howard, because they were not related to the garda investigation.

Counsel for Ms Collins pointed out that these calls had been made while Ms Collins was in Spain.

The trial will continue on Monday.