Sunday 23 July 2017

CCTV video shows man fleeing from hotel where ex strangled

Eric Locke
Eric Locke
Sonia Blount

Eimear Cotter

A young mother was allegedly strangled and suffocated to death by her ex-boyfriend, who was seen on CCTV running from the hotel hours before her body was found, a court has been told.

There were ligature marks around Sonia Blount's neck and a blood-stained top had been stuffed in her mouth with such force her teeth were damaged.

Eric Locke (35) has admitted he caused the death of Ms Blount at the Plaza Hotel in Tallaght on February 16, 2014, but has denied her murder.

He had a brief relationship with Ms Blount but it had fizzled out and a court heard he did not take the break-up well.

It is the State's case that Mr Locke, of St John's Park East in Clondalkin, assumed a false identity on social media and lured Ms Blount to a hotel bedroom where he strangled her to death.

State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy told the Central Criminal Court Ms Blount died as a result of asphyxia, or a lack of oxygen to the brain, caused by compression of the neck which was exaggerated by suffocation due to a gag in her mouth.

Sonia Blount
Sonia Blount

Prof Cassidy said the bruising around Ms Blount's mouth suggested she was still alive when the gag was put in her mouth.

There was bruising to Ms Blount's neck and a number of bones in her neck were fractured.

Prof Cassidy said the neck bruises indicated two types of strangulation were used.

One of the marks was very narrow and was consistent with cable ties, which were strewn around the room. The second mark was consistent with an arm lock.

The jury was told significant force would have been needed to the neck to cause Ms Blount's death, and that force would have needed to be maintained for a sufficient period of time.

Prof Cassidy said Ms Blount's front teeth had been dislodged, and again "great force would be required" for that to happen.

Prof Cassidy said the toxicology report showed Ms Blount had taken cocaine within hours of her death.

There was also evidence of recent sexual activity.

Crime scene examiner Detective Garda Janette O'Neill also gave evidence that cable ties and other items were strewn around the hotel bedroom and it appeared a "violent struggle" had taken place.

Earlier, Detective Garda Barry O'Mahony led the jury through the CCTV footage showing the movements of Mr Locke and the last movements of Ms Blount. In the footage, she checks in at reception and heads to Room 346 at 9.19pm.

The accused arrives at 11.55pm, where he collects a keycard and heads up to Room 346. The CCTV footage has Mr Locke leaving the hotel at 5.38am. He walks out but then runs away.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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