Saturday 22 July 2017

Friend worried mum was going to meet 'whackjob' murder accused

Sonia Blount’s friend had expressed her concern
Sonia Blount’s friend had expressed her concern

Eimear Cotter

A childhood friend was worried that a young mother was meeting her ex-boyfriend on the night she died, a jury has heard.

Susan Kelly said her friend Sonia Blount always wanted to help people but she told her Eric Locke (35) was "not someone you help, you just walk away".

Ms Kelly told a jury Ms Blount described Mr Locke as a "whackjob".

The Central Criminal Court heard that days after Ms Blount broke off contact with him, Mr Locke asked if a friend could hack her Facebook and email accounts.

There were also rumours at the pair's workplace he was stalking her.

Mr Locke has admitted causing her death but says he did not mean to kill her and will be pleading the defence of diminished responsibility.

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

The prosecution case is the Dubliner assumed a false identity online in order to lure her to a hotel bedroom, where he strangled her to death.

Childhood friend Ms Kelly said Ms Blount went on a few dates with Mr Locke but it "wasn't a big serious relationship".

On January 11, 2014, Ms Kelly had a few missed calls from Ms Blount and when she rang her back she said she wasn't seeing Mr Locke again as he had become abusive.

She said Ms Blount told her he was "very full on".

In the weeks afterwards, Ms Kelly said Ms Blount seemed preoccupied, telling her Mr Locke wouldn't leave her alone and she was "getting worried about the situation".

A tearful Ms Kelly said Ms Blount was due to go out with her on the evening before she died, but cancelled saying she was tired. Ms Kelly said she didn't believe her as "Sonia would never let me down".

The jury was told Ms Kelly believed she was going to meet a man, and she told Ms Blount she hoped it wasn't Eric.

She said Ms Blount "always wanted to help" people but she told her Mr Locke was "not someone you help, someone you just walk away from".

In response, Ms Blount said she wasn't meeting him, "no, that would be a nightmare, not that whackjob from work".

Nerves

Earlier, the jury heard that on the night she died Ms Blount had arranged to meet a stranger in a hotel for a one night stand.

Text messages sent to the fictitious 'Shane Cully', really Mr Locke, indicated she was "sick with nerves" about the liaison as she had never done it before.

Garda Mark Shortt led the jury through the Facebook messages, which started as banter but became quite intimate. The fake 'Shane Cully' told her they would be "f**k buddies".

The jury also heard further evidence of texts between Mr Locke and Ms Blount.

On February 5, 2014, he had accused her of blocking him on Facebook and blanking him at work, saying "why can't you even look at me, it just hurts".

Ms Blount denied this, though in a later text she revealed she was "afraid talking to you will give you the wrong impression".

The next day, he text he'd heard a rumour in work he was stalking her. He said there was "no truth" to it.

Ms Blount text she hadn't heard the rumours, though she added: "You keeping looking over at me and it's freaking me out."

The pair continued to communicate until February 8, 2014 when the texts stopped.

Mr Locke subsequently text his sister Kim, asking if she would ask a mutual friend if he could hack Ms Blount's Facebook page and email account as he had heard she was "ripping him off behind his back".

He said he "needed to know" so he could "stay away from her".

In later texts, his sister told him Ms Blount's accounts couldn't be hacked.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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