Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Murder plot mother loses appeal

County Clare woman Sharon Collins was sent back to Dochas Prison (pictured) after losing her appeal against her conviction

A mother of two jailed for soliciting a Las Vegas poker dealer to kill her wealthy partner and his two sons has had her conviction upheld.

Sharon Collins went back to Dochas Prison after the Court of Criminal Appeal refused all 23 grounds of appeal.

The 47-year-old was jailed for six years in November 2008 for conspiracy to kill PJ Howard and his two sons Robert and Niall Howard.

She is due for release in March 2013, including remission for good behaviour. Collins had also been found guilty of conspiring to kill the three.

But the court previously ruled that conspiring to murder her wealthy partner and his two sons by hiring an online hitman could not be upheld because her co-accused - Egyptian-born Las Vegas poker dealer Essam Eid - was acquitted. He has since been extradited to the United States, where he is due to be sentenced for extortion.

Collins, from Ennis, County Clare, was fighting her conviction on three charges of soliciting Eid. She was found guilty of using the email alias Lying Eyes to find Eid, a "hitman for hire", on the internet and setting up the killings for September 2006.

The tanned petite blond looked immaculate as she entered the courtroom in a smart grey speckled fitted jack and black trousers.

She appeared to miss the ruling, which the three-judge court delivered within seconds, and looked confused as she was tapped on the shoulder by a prison guard to return to the holding area.

At her sentencing hearing in November 2008, Mr Howard appealed for the judge to spare his former partner from jail.

"I will not give up on Sharon," he said, pleading for a suspended sentence. "Sharon is in my opinion one of the nicest people you could ever have been fortunate to know. A caring, loving and decent lady."

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