Sunday 22 October 2017

Eric Locke trial hears from detective who arrived at alleged murder scene in hotel room

Sonia Blount 'was lying on the floor in the recovery position' - jury hears

Eric Locke, inset, Sonia Blount
Eric Locke, inset, Sonia Blount
Mother-of-one Sonia Blount (31), who died by asphyxiation and strangulation in the Plaza Hotel in Tallaght in February 2014
Former model Eric Locke (35)

Eimear Cotter

A young woman who was allegedly killed by her former boyfriend in a hotel room was lying on the floor in the recovery position when she was examined by gardai, a jury has been told.

There were items strewn around the bedroom and it appeared that a "violent struggle" had taken place, a scenes of crime examiner has said.

Eric Locke (35) has admitted he caused the death of mum-of-one Sonia Blount in February 2014 but he has denied her murder.

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

Mother-of-one Sonia Blount (31), who died by asphyxiation and strangulation in the Plaza Hotel in Tallaght in February 2014
Mother-of-one Sonia Blount (31), who died by asphyxiation and strangulation in the Plaza Hotel in Tallaght in February 2014

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 his former girlfriend to a hotel bedroom where he strangled her to death.

In her evidence, scenes of crime examiner, Detective Garda Janette O'Neill said she attended The Plaza Hotel in Tallaght on February 16, 2014.

Gda O'Neill said Ms Blount was lying on the floor in bedroom 346 and she appeared to be in the recovery position, with an arm over her body.

She said it appeared her body had been moved.

Former model Eric Locke (35)
Former model Eric Locke (35)

The detective said Ms Blount had blood around her face and had a gag in her mouth. The gag appeared to be a white and black stripped top.

Ms Blount was wearing a black vest and black jeans and boots, and there was a ligature mark around her neck.

Gda O'Neill said there were a number items strewn around the floor, including cable ties and a mobile phone charger, and it was her view that a "violent struggle" had taken place.

A ladies black jacket and a man's white jacket are also in the bedroom.

Earlier, Detective Garda Barry O'Mahoney led the jury through the CCTV footage showing the movements of Eric Locke and the last movements of Ms Blount.

She is shown on CCTV cameras arriving at The Plaza Hotel, checking in at reception and then heading to Room 346 at 9.19pm. Ms Blount appears to be carrying an overnight bag.

Mr Locke is shown on CCTV ordering a drink in the Steering Wheel pub in Clondalkin shortly after 11pm, and leaving the pub just before 11.45pm.

The accused arrives in the Plaza Hotel at 11.55pm, where he collects a keycard at reception and heads up in the lift towards Room 346. He is wearing a white jacket and puts on a hat as he makes his way to the bedroom.

The CCTV footage has Mr Locke leaving the hotel at 5.38am. He is still wearing the hat but not the white jacket.

As we walks away, CCTV footage show him crouching down, and it appears he deposits something.

Mr Locke then runs away in the direction of Belgard Square.

In his opening address to the jury yesterday, prosecutor Remy Farrell SC said this case was "not a whodunit" but rather the jury would be asked to concentrate on the mental state of the accused.

Mr Farrell said Mr Locke was later interviewed by gardai and he admitted he strangled Ms Blount, but said he didn't mean to kill her.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Michael Moriarty and a jury of eight men and four women.

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