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Tycoon: Don't jail wife who hired hitman

  • Story Highlights
  • Irish tycoon pleads with judge not to jail wife who hired hitman to kill him, sons
  • Judge sentenced Sharon Collins, 45, to six years in prison
  • She offered hitman $19,000 deposit to make killing look like accident
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(CNN) -- A wealthy Irish businessman has pleaded with a judge not to jail his partner -- a woman who hired a hitman to kill him and his two sons for his $76 million fortune.

P.J. Howard's impassioned request to Dublin's Central Criminal Court is the latest twist in a case that has grabbed headlines in the Republic of Ireland and sparked comparisons with the plot of a crime novel.

Howard told the judge he would never give up on Sharon Collins and would not hesitate living with her again, Ireland's national television station RTE reported.

The judge, nevertheless, sentenced Collins, 45, to six years in prison.

According to RTE and local media accounts, prosecutors said Collins was motivated by greed. She wanted Howard's considerable fortune that his two grown sons were set to inherit.

Using an e-mail username named after an Eagles song, lyingeyes98, Collins began corresponding with a man she met on a Web site,

The two exchanged a series of damning e-mails that prosecutors presented as evidence.

Collins offered the hitman -- a 53-year-old poker dealer named Essam Eid -- a $19,000 deposit to take out Howard and his sons, and make it look like an accident.

But Eid tried to sweeten the deal for himself by contacting Howard's son with a counter-offer, prosecutors said. Eid offered the son the opportunity to buy out the murder contract for $127,000.

The son contacted the authorities. A jury found Eid guilty of extortion, and also sentenced him to a six-year prison term.

Throughout the trial, Collins maintained her innocence. Howard visited her in pre-trial detention and kissed her in the courtroom at their last hearing.

Even as the final chapter to the story was written Monday, Howard's affection did not waver.

Collins, he said, is "one of the nicest people you could ever know," according to an account in the Irish Independent daily newspaper.

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