Man ‘used false name to meet, strangle ex’

A man assumed a false identity in order to meet his ex-girlfriend in a hotel room, where he strangled her, a murder trial jury has heard.

Man ‘used false name to meet, strangle ex’

The prosecutor was giving his opening speech yesterday at the Central Criminal Court in the trial of Eric Locke, aged 35, who is accused of the murder of Sonia Blount, aged 31, in the Plaza Hotel, Tallaght, Dublin, on February 16, 2014.

Mr Locke, of St John’s Park East, Clondalkin, has pleaded not guilty. However, Patrick Gageby, defending, has said “the defence admits the accused caused Ms Blount’s death”.

Remy Farrell, prosecuting, told the jury Ms Blount was a working single mother of a three-year-old son when she began a brief relationship with Mr Locke in late 2013.

He said it would be clear Mr Locke had not taken the ending of that relationship well, and that he seemed to have threatened suicide.

He said he continued to text her for a considerable time, and she blocked him from contacting her through Facebook in February 2014.

Sonia Blount
Sonia Blount

Mr Farrell said that by mid-February, Ms Blount had received contact from a man called Shane Cully on Facebook. He said the private messaging had started with banter.

“It became a little more risqué, intimate,” he said, explaining that there had been a suggestion that they would meet up, implicitly, for a sexual encounter.

“The chat resulted in this arrangement being made that on the evening of the 15th, Sonia Blount would meet Shane Cully in the Plaza hotel in Tallaght.”

Mr Farrell said February 15 had been an important day for the deceased, having celebrated her son’s third birthday party with family, who thought she was going out with a female friend that night.

She checked into the Plaza Hotel at 9pm. Shane Cully was to come along later and asked that a keycard be left for him at reception.

“Later that evening, somebody did arrive at the Plaza hotel, but it wasn’t Shane Cully,” said Mr Farrell.

“There never was a Shane Cully. What he [Mr Locke] had done was he had assumed this false identity and had made contact with Sonia Blount.”

He said this seemed to have been done for one purpose, to ensure she was on her own in a hotel room.

He told the jurors that what happened in the room on his arrival was a matter for them. He said it was clear that Mr Locke had cable ties, masking tape, and a realistic-looking airgun when he went into the bedroom.

“The prosecution case is that they are items he brought there with the intent of overpowering and dominating Ms Blount,” he said.

He said she was found on the floor with a garment shoved in her mouth. She had died of asphyxiation and strangulation.

Mr Farrell said the accused had admitted to gardaí he had strangled her, but said he did not mean to kill her. He had suggested she became distressed when he saw the items he had, he panicked and strangled her.

Mr Farrell said the jury would be asked to concentrate on the mental state of Mr Locke and would hear from psychiatrists.

The trial continues.

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