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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Mike brings ‘Lying Eyes’ court case to Hollywood



Date Published: 28-Apr-2011

After a quarter of a century in the financial sector – and at the age of 52 – Michael Duke went to Hollywood.

If ever there was a poster boy for embarking on a career sea change it is the quietly spoken Mr Duke, who has lived in Galway for 15 years having spent half his life in Japan and the other half in the US and UK.

So how does a financier and Harvard business graduate end up a film producer?

It’s a story that’s almost worthy of a screenplay itself and begins with a court case that gripped the nation.


The trial of housewife Sharon Collins and Essam Eid, an Egyptian poker dealer, read more like the plot of a Coen Brothers fantasy than something out of the Central Criminal Court.

In 2008, the Ennis mother-of-two was convicted of soliciting Eid to murder her partner, property tycoon PJ Howard, and his two sons Niall and Robert, in order to become the beneficiary of an estate said to be worth €60m.

After her lover ignored her pleas to wed after eight years together, Collins secured a fake marriage licence online.

Then from an email address and using the alias ‘Lying Eyes’, she contacted Los Vegas-based Eid on the website he had set up, He posed as mafioso Tony Luciano.

For a fee of $90,000, a plan was hatched for the three to be poisoned to death by spiking their drinks with ricin. Enough of the substance to kill 100,000 people was later discovered in a contact lens case in Eid’s cell in Limerick Prison.

But the plot went awry when instead of going through with the poisoning, Eid contacted Robert Howard and offered him a chance to buy his family out of the contract killing for €100,000. Eid showed him photos of himself and his family and had driving directions to their homes.

Instead of giving into blackmail, Robert told the gardaí. Eid, his wife Teresa Engle – who carried the ricin through Shannon Airport – and Sharon Collins were all arrested.

PJ Howard spent €250,000 trying to stand up Collin’s alibi. She claimed she was the victim of blackmail by Maria Marconi, to whom she had revealed details of her private life in an online writing course. The Ennis businessman has vowed to resume their relationship on her release next year.

The story was so fantastical that prosecution barrister Úna Ní Raifeartaigh felt it necessary to remind the jury this was not entertainment. Eid used to joke that he wanted Al Pacino to play him in a screen version of his story.

Michael was agog.

He had never done anything with the film business before but felt compelled to sit down and write a screenplay based on the eight-week trial.

He was also in the middle of a hiatus with his career.

The son of American parents, he was raised in Japan after his father was posted there as a diplomat.

“I used to think in Japanese, I’d always add numbers in Japanese. It wasn’t till my 20s I changed to thinking in English. I have certain Japanese trait. I nod my head a lot – even if I don’t agree with something. If I’m referring to myself I touch my nose which they do in Japan instead of touching the chest,” explains Michael.

He studied political science at the University of Florida and

completed courses in management at Harvard University and Harvard Business School. He also studied comparative culture in Tokyo and Los Angeles.

He went on to work in global finance as an investment banker and financial software executive with financial service institutions, venture capital firms, technology service providers and consulting companies.

He was working in investment banking in London when ‘black Monday’ hit in 1987 – a crash he believes was nowhere near as bad as the current fiscal crisis.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway Bay FM News Archives

Galway has country’s largest population of young people



Date Published: 07-May-2013

Galway has a population of young people which is more than twice the national average.

According to information gathered by the Central Statistics Office, Galway’s population of 20 to 24 year olds is more than twice the national average.

The number of 25-34 year olds in Galway is also more than the norm nationally, with the two main colleges thought to be the main reason.

However immigration in Galway is much higher than in other areas at 19.4 percent, compared to the national average of 12 percent.


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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Call for direct donations to city charity shops



Date Published: 07-May-2013

A city councillor is encouraging people to donate goods directly to charity shops.

It follows allegations of thefts from clothes banks in Galway and across the country in recent months.

However, cameras are in place at some clothes banks and surveillance is carried out by local authorities.

Speaking on Galway Talks, Councillor Neil McNeilis said the problem of theft from clothes banks is widespread.

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Galway ‘Park and Ride’ could become permanent



Date Published: 07-May-2013

A park ‘n’ ride scheme from Carnmore into Galway city could become a permanent service if there is public demand.

That’s according to the Chief Executive of Galway Chamber of Commerce, Michael Coyle.

The pilot scheme will begin at 7.20 next Monday morning, May 13th.

Motorists will be able to park cars at the airport carpark in Carnmore and avail of a bus transfer to Forster Street in the city.

Buses will depart every 20 minutes at peak times and every 30 minutes at offpeak times throughout the day, at a cost of 2 euro per journey.

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