herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Lying eyes' lover has stopped visiting her in Mountjoy jail

Millionaire businessman PJ Howard has not been to see Sharon Collins since last September.

The Herald has learned that Howard last called to see Collins six months ago, prompting speculation that the lovebirds are no longer an item.

"There's been no sign of PJ at the prison, he's not visited Sharon. No one knows why," a source said.

Howard (59) famously stood by Collins -- nicknamed Lying Eyes -- during her trial, after which she was convicted of soliciting a man to murder him and his two sons.

But he did not appear at the Central Criminal Court this week as her appeal against her conviction got underway.

Prison officers have previously said they were gobsmacked at the "touchy touchy, feely feely" manner of the prison visits.

But since last September Mr Howard's name has not featured on the visitor's book, a legal requirement for entry to the Dochas Centre.

Significantly, Howard has not been in the Court of Criminal Appeal over the past two days.

After the trial in July 2008, when Lying Eyes was sentenced to 6 years, the millionaire spent around €200,000 hiring private investigators to gather fresh evidence for her appeal.

"I will not give up on Sharon," he said at the time, 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."

He told the court that he did not believe the allegations.

"It doesn't make sense to me. It's totally out of character and to be quite honest I find it very, very, very hard to believe."

He told how Sharon Collins had looked after him when he had cardiac problems in 2000.

PLOT

He claimed she would have to have been "mentally retarded" to create the murder plot presented in court.

"I can assure you Sharon is not. She has a high IQ. I don't believe she sent those emails," said the property investor who over two years ago was reputed to be worth €60m.

He added that that his dying wish would be for her name to be cleared.

Yesterday, the three judge Court of Criminal Appeal reserved judgement in an appeal brought by the Clare woman against her conviction for soliciting a hitman to murder Mr Howard and his two sons in 2006.

The Court rejected a bid by her co-accused Essam Eid to have his six year sentence reduced.

Eid (54) was jailed in October 2008 after being found guilty of demanding €100,000 from Robert Howard on September 26, 2006 in exchange for not killing him, his brother Niall and their father PJ Howard.

hnews@herald.ie

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