DPP v Collins

JurisdictionIreland
CourtCourt of Criminal Appeal
JudgeFinnegan J.
Judgment Date19 October 2011
Neutral Citation[2011] IECCA 64
Date19 October 2011

[2011] IECCA 64

COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEAL

Finnegan J.

Budd J.

O'Keeffe J.

Record No. 254/08
DPP v Collins

BETWEEN

THE PEOPLE (AT THE SUIT OF THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS)
RESPONDENT
.v.
SHARON COLLINS
APPLICANT

OFFENCES AGAINST THE PERSON ACT 1861 S4

CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT 1984 S20

DPP v BRADDISH 2001 3 IR 127

MUTUAL ASSISTANCE ACT 2008

DPP v MCKEVITT 2009 1 IR 525

R v DAY 1940 1 AER 402

DAWSON v DISTRICT JUSTICE HAMILL 1989 IR 275

R v HARRIS 1927 2 KB 587

R v HASSAM 1970 1 QB 423

CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT 1967 (UK) S11(8)

CRIMINAL LAW

Evidence

Disclosure - Power or procurement - Whether onus on prosecution to obtain materials from United States - Whether all reasonable efforts made to obtain material - Testing of forensic evidence - Whether prosecution can call evidence at late stage - Whether trial judge entitled to revisit ruling in light of evidence heard - Alibi evidence - Failure to give notice of intended alibi evidence -Whether witness reply adequately dealt with by directions of trial judge - Definition of solicitation - Whether inconsistent to acquit one co-accused of conspiracy but convict the other for solicitation - R v Hassan [1970] 1 QB 423 distinguished - Appeal refused (254/2008 - CCA - 19/10/2011) [2011] IECCA 64

People (DPP) v Collins

Facts The applicant was charged and convicted on three counts of conspiracy to murder and three counts of soliciting to murder. The applicant sought leave herein to appeal her convictions. The applicant's grounds of appeal regarding the convictions for conspiracy to murder were not opposed by the respondent. It was the prosecution case that the applicant herein solicited Mr Essam Eid to murder her partner and his two sons. The prosecution alleged that the applicant made contact with Mr Eid by e-mail and entered into a contract with him to murder the aforementioned three people. The prosecution supplied evidence of a forensic analysis of five computers and evidence of telephone contact. It was also part of the prosecution case that Mr Eid made Ricin in the garage of his Las Vegas home and brought that Ricin to Ireland in a contact lens case. It was also alleged that Mr Eid and his wife approached one of the intended victims and offered him the chance to buy out the contract on his life. The applicant sought leave to appeal on a number of grounds as follows: 1. failure by the prosecution to procure documentation in relation to an investigation of an alleged conspiracy between Mr Eid and his wife to defraud a man in the United States of America whom they had been contracted to kill. 2. The applicant submitted her trial was unsatisfactory because the prosecution failed to establish what was done to analyse suspected Ricin allegedly found in Mr Eid's home in Las Vegas. The applicant also submitted that the learned trial judge erred in admitting evidence pertaining to the alleged Ricin found in the contact lens case of Mr Eid and also erred in overruling a decision to exclude that evidence. The applicant had not been given the opportunity to test the substance found in the contact lens case as the substance was tested to destruction by the prosecution. 3. The applicant submitted that the learned trial judge erred in ruling that the evidence of Mr Keating was alibi evidence and erred in failing to charge the jury with sufficient clarity as to the consequences of that evidence being ruled as alibi evidence. 4. The applicant submitted the learned trial judge failed to charge the jury correctly on a number of matters.

Held by the C.C.A.; Finnegan J. (Budd, O'Keefe JJ) in refusing the applicant leave to appeal: 1. That the applicant's trial was not made unfair by reason of the non-availability of information regarding the alleged Ricin found in the U.S.A. The respondent had in good faith made all reasonable efforts to obtain further disclosure from the U.S.A.

2. That there was no unfairness to the applicant in the trial judge hearing other witnesses on the issue of the testing of the Ricin after his initial ruling that this evidence was inadmissible. As no injustice was occasioned to the applicant it would have been unfair to the prosecution if the learned trial judge was not entitled to review his decision in the light of additional evidence.

3. That the applicant wished to adduce evidence by means of Mr Keating that she was at another place at a particular and relevant time. That was alibi evidence. The learned trial judge re-charged the jury after he was requisitioned in relation to this aspect of the trial and he was not further requisitioned after his re-charge. Consequently, the applicant could not rely on any suggested inadequacy.

4. That the learned trial judge's charge was unobjectionable. The charge was clear and dealt with the relevant law and the relevant facts.

Reporter: BD

1

Judgment of the Court delivered on the 19th day of October 2011 by Finnegan J.

The Applicant
2

The applicant was charged on six counts and convicted on the same. The counts were as follows:-

3

Count No. 1 Statement of Offence

4

Conspiracy to murder contrary to common law and section 4 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

Particulars of Offence
5

Sharon Collins and Essam Eid did between the 1 st day of August 2006 and the 26 th day of September 2006 within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court conspire together to murder within the State Robert Howard.

Count No. 2 Statement of Offences
6

Conspiracy to murder contrary to common law and section 4 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

Particulars of Offence
7

Sharon Collins and Essam Eid did between the 1 st day of August 2006 and the 26 th day of September 2006 within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court conspire together to murder within the State Niall Howard.

Count No. 3 Statement of Offence
8

Conspiracy to murder contrary to common law and section 4 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

Particulars of Offence
9

Sharon Collins and Essam Eid did between the 1 st day of August 2006 and the 26 th day of September 2006 within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court conspire together to murder P.J. Howard.

Count No. 4 Statement of Offence
10

Soliciting to murder contrary to section 4 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

Particulars of Offence
11

Sharon Collins on or about the 15 th day of August 2006 within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court solicited Essam Eid to murder Robert Howard.

Count No. 5 Statement of Offence
12

Soliciting to murder contrary to section 4 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

Particulars of Offence
13

Sharon Collins on or about the 15 th day of August 2006 within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court solicited Essam Eid to murder Niall Howard.

Count No. 6 Statement of Offence
14

Soliciting to murder contrary to section 4 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

Particulars of Offence
15

Sharon Collins on or about the 15 th day of August 2006 within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court solicited Essam Eid to murder P.J. Howard.

16

The applicant gave notice of application for leave to appeal in respect of each of the said convictions. In advance of the hearing the Director of Public Prosecutions indicated to the court that the grounds of appeal relating to the applicant's convictions for conspiracy to murder were not being opposed. This application accordingly is concerned only with the applicant's conviction on counts 4, 5 and 6 set out above.

Facts not in controversy on the application
17

Sharon Collins was born on the 11 th May 1963 and grew up in Ennis, Co. Clare. She married Noel Collins and had two sons Garry and David. Her marriage was annulled in 1991. She continued to reside in Ennis where she had a number of business interests. Mr P.J. Howard was born on the 10 th July 1949 and resided at Ballybeg House, Kildysart Road, some seven miles from Ennis. He was the proprietor of a business known as Downes & Howard. He is wealthy with a net worth estimated in tens of millions of Euro. He was born on the 10 th July 1949. He was married and had two sons, Niall Howard and Robert Howard who at the time of the events giving rise to the charges against the applicant were aged twenty three and twenty seven respectively. He legally separated from his wife in the early 1990s. He formed a relationship with a Ms Lyons which continued until her death in 1998. Shortly after the death of Ms Lyons in November 1998 he met with the applicant and they subsequently entered into a relationship. The applicant moved into Mr Howard's home and shortly afterwards the applicant's children joined them. Mr P.J. Howard's wife died in September 2003 and in consequence he was free to re-marry.

18

The prosecution contended that the applicant was anxious that she and Mr P.J. Howard would wed but he was unwilling to divorce his wife. He was also anxious to divest himself of wealth in favour of his sons while wishing to maintain and support the applicant and her two children. In 2005 the applicant and Mr P.J. Howard took part in a ceremony in Sorrento in Italy consisting of solemn promises and declarations of commitment: it was accepted that this was not a valid marriage but was undertaken to afford respectability to the relationship between the applicant and Mr P.J. Howard. On their return to Ireland they held a "wedding reception" in the Spanish Point Hotel, Co. Clare. The applicant in addition procured a document entitled "Proxy Marriage Certificate" from Mexico. On the 26 th February 2006 the applicant used the proxy marriage certificate to obtain a passport in the name Sharon Howard.

The Prosecution Case
19

On the 2 nd August 2006 the applicant set up an...

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