Woman jailed for hiring internet hit man

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An Irish woman has been found guilty of hiring a hit man over the internet to kill her partner and his family.

Sharon Collins, 45, a divorced mother-of-two, tried to hire a hit man from the now defunct US site www.Hitman.us.com to kill her partner, Irish property tycoon PJ Howard, and his two sons.

She was contacted by a man calling himself Tony Luciano, (who was in fact an Egyptian poker dealer from Las Vegas called Essam Eid) who offered her poison to do the job. She negotiated a down payment and hired him.

The court heard that she was so confident in the chances of killing her partner that she went online and procured a marriage certificate from a Mexican internet site Proxymarriage.com for US$1,000, and used it to get an Irish passport in the name of Sharon Howard.

However, the plot went awry when Eid flew to Ireland and burgled Howard’s offices, taking two computers. He then contacted one of Howard’s sons, returned one of the computers and told him that there was a contract on his life, which he could avoid if he paid ‘Luciano’ around US$150,000.

The son contacted the police, who arrested Eid and recovered the computers, which contained the email conversations between himself and Collins. In them she claimed that Howard was trying to force her to have sex with strangers and she needed him dead to protect herself and her two sons.

After an eight week trial Collins was found guilty of conspiracy to kill and Eid of handling stolen goods and demanding money with menaces. They will be sentenced in October.

Despite this bizarre case the internet is increasingly being used to offer contract killing on demand. Mexican police are launching an investigation after they found classified ads online offer murder fro as little as US$6,000.

"The problem of hitmen is real and we are facing it all over the country -- people offer their services to kill someone for a price," city police official Miguel Amelio Gomez was quoted as saying in the daily Reforma newspaper.
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