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Woman who hired hitman starts new life as Belfast dog walker and masseuse

By Niamh Horan

Published 05/10/2015

Sharon Collins has begun a new life in Northern Ireland
Sharon Collins has begun a new life in Northern Ireland

An Irish woman who hired an Egyptian hitman to kill her millionaire partner and his two sons has started a new life in Northern Ireland.

Sharon Collins is single again and working as a masseuse and professional dog walker in Belfast.

The woman who shot to prominence as 'Lying Eyes' has a large circle of friends in the city and says she is tired of moving on each time her whereabouts are made public.

She said she wanted to be left to live in peace. With tear-filled eyes, she said: "Everyone deserves a second chance. I should be able to get on with my life."

In 2008 Collins, from Ennis in Co Clare, was found guilty of conspiring to murder her former partner PJ Howard and his sons Robert and Niall.

Collins, who denied using the internet alias 'lyingeyes98', was also convicted of soliciting an Egyptian-born Las Vegas poker dealer via his Hitmen For Hire website to murder the three men.

In extraordinary scenes at her sentencing, property tycoon Howard pleaded with the judge not to jail Collins. But she was given a six-year sentence at the Central Criminal Court.

She was released after serving three years and nine months and has always protested her innocence.

Although she initially planned to pen a book on her experience, she now just wants to live a quiet life. "I was writing two books to tell my side of the story and it would be lovely to be able to do, but then I thought the life I am living (when I am left alone) is invaluable."

Speaking of her new start, she said: "I was only supposed to come to Belfast for a break for six months, but I have made good friends here now.

"People here have been really, really good to me."

She said choosing whether or not to tell people about her past still tears her in two, as she makes new friends and dips her toes back in the dating scene.

"That is the one thing I have agonised about. At what point do you tell people? Do you build your relationship with someone first and is it then all based on a lie? Do you feel people deserve to know everything from the word go? At what point do you tell people? It is a very difficult question.

"It was a slow process - talking to one friend, then talking to another and going about it that way. And then asking someone I have spoken to if they can explain the situation to someone else, because every time I had to talk about it I had to relive it."

Describing her feelings about her past, she said: "I have always, always maintained my innocence. But shame and guilt are two very different things. No one wants to say they have been to prison. Of course you would prefer for people not to know."

Speaking about the friendships she has made, she said: "A lot of people who knew me had already heard it somewhere else and didn't care and when I did talk to them they said: 'Look, we don't want to know', which was fantastic.

"Even as late as last week, someone said to me: 'I like to take people as I find them and I don't judge anyone'. It is incredible that people can be like that."

Collins is no longer in a relationship with PJ Howard, after initially reuniting again when she came out of prison, but she said the romance ended amicably. "I think you eventually get to the point where a relationship is over and it is time to let it go. But we ended on very good terms."

On finding love again, she said: "I would be very slow to get myself involved with someone. It is not a priority in my life right now. The baggage that I am coming with, it is a big ask for anyone to accept that and it would take someone very strong to accept all that."

And she credits her belief in God with getting her through her toughest times: "I have a very strong faith in God. I would say my faith has gotten stronger now. I certainly never felt alone or abandoned when I was away," she said, referring to her time in prison. Speaking about the long-term effects her incarceration has had, she added: "I have nightmares that I am running away from something or I am back in prison and I wake up and I have to remember where I am."

On enjoying the little things in life again, she said: "I love nature, I love being outdoors, I love being able to go out and walk the dogs. I do some work as a masseuse part-time.

"I trained as a massage therapist in sports massage and aromatherapy. I used to give massages to the other women when I was away (in prison) who were recovering from drugs addiction, that sort of thing.

"So I continued it afterwards. I only have a few clients. Friends of friends, that sort of thing. I operate a mobile service."

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