Tuesday 17 October 2017

Murder accused Eric Locke dressed ex-girlfriend's body to 'give her dignity in death'

Eric Locke, inset, Sonia Blount
Eric Locke, inset, Sonia Blount

Eimear Cotter

A MAN accused of strangling his former girlfriend in a hotel bedroom dressed her body after he killed her because he wanted to "give her dignity in death", a jury has been told.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Sean O’Domhnaill said the dressing of Sonia Blount’s body was "incongruous" and only Mr Locke’s explanation made sense, that he "wanted to leave her in death her dignity".

Eric Locke (35) has admitted he caused the death of Ms Blount but says he did not mean to kill her and is pleading the defence of diminished responsibility.

It is the prosecution case that Mr Locke, of St John’s Park East in Clondalkin, posed as another man on Facebook and arranged a meeting in the Plaza Hotel in Tallaght, where he strangled her to death.

Her body was found in a room in the hotel on February 16, 2014.

The pair had briefly dated but the relationship ended on January 11, 2014 after he called her a “slut” in a row after a night out.

He later told gardai, during interview, that he became “severely hurt and depressed” when Ms Blount blocked him on Facebook, blanked him at work and told him to stop texting her.

Prosecutor Remy Farrell SC continued his cross examination of defence witness, consultant psychiatrist Dr Sean O’Domhnaill, today.

He put it to Dr O’Domhnaill that Mr Locke told gardai during interview “I don’t know why, I really don’t know” when asked why he dressed the mum-of-one’s body after her death.

Dr O’Domhnaill told the Central Criminal Court he didn’t remember what Mr Locke told gardai.

Mr Farrell suggested that Mr Locke could have dressed Ms Blount’s body to hide the fact she was naked when she died.

“I don’t know why he’d that. It would be a pointless exercise to hide any sexual activity”, Dr O’Domhnaill said.

He accepted his only account that there had been consensual sex between the pair was Mr Locke’s account.

Mr Farrell put it to the psychiatrist he had based his report on Mr Locke’s account of what had happened, which was “lies”.

Dr O’Domhnaill accepted it was “very possible” Mr Locke had lied to him, and he may well be “a compulsive liar”.

Mr Farrell also claimed that the doctor, in compiling his report, never measured Mr Locke’s account of what happened against “any other objective evidence in the case”.

Yesterday, Dr O’Domhnaill said he believed Mr Locke “panicked when Ms Blount panicked and started to scream” after she saw the cable ties and duct tape fall out of the bag he was carrying.

“Would it surprise you the CCTV shows Mr Locke had no bag with you when he went to the bedroom?” asked Mr Farrell. “There was no bag, Mr Locke was telling whopping lies.”

“I had no idea”, said Dr O’Domhnaill.

Mr Farrell said Mr Locke told gardai, during interview, various accounts of how Ms Blount saw the duct tape, an air-gun and cable ties.

Dr O’Domhnaill said people with Mr Locke’s condition are often “compulsive liars”.

Earlier, Dr O’Domhniall said he found it “difficult to discount” that mother of one Sonia Blount had a “suspicion” she was going to meet Eric Locke, rather than Shane Cully, on the night she died.

Dr O’Domhnaill accepted Ms Blount told her friends that Mr Locke was “a psycho” but he had wondered if there was “a residual part of her that liked Mr Locke”.

The doctor said that when he spoke to Mr Locke, he told him that Ms Blount was “half surprised” but “half expected” he was the fictitious Shane Cully.

Mr Farrell put it to him she was sure Shane Cully wasn’t Mr Locke, as he had sent her a picture of a penis, which clearly wasn’t Mr Locke’s, which has surgical scaring.

“I found it difficult to discount that Ms Blount had a suspicion she was going to meet Mr Locke”, he said.

“Without knowing Ms Blount, it is difficult to know what situation she would put herself in”.

He also said that Mr Locke’s sister, Suzanne O’Neill, had “always worried” that her brother was mentally unwell, but was unsure what condition he had.

He said Ms O’Neill told him she believed her brother had “some serious psychiatric condition which had been missed”.

He said Ms O’Neill told him she often tried to get Eric to open up about what was going on in his head, but it was only after a few drinks, that he revealed he had suffered depression for 10 years, and had made a number of suicide attempts in his teens.

Dr O’Domhnaill said that in the weeks leading up to Ms Blount’s death Mr Locke told him he had made several suicide attempts.

“Four or five, I believe”.

He clarified they were para suicide attempts, where he had everything in place, and said that Mr Locke, “never put a rope around his neck”.

He accepted Mr Locke had told him about these attempts, and apart from an attempt in January 2014 when gardai were contacted, he had no clear evidence of any other attempts.

Dr O’Domhnaill also said Mr Locke suffers from alexithymia, an inability to describe or express his own emotions.

Mr Farrell questioned Dr O’Domhnaill about the texts Mr Locke sent to Ms Blount where he expressed his love and sadness to her.

He said Mr Locke barely knew Ms Blount, and while he may have been infatuated with her, hyperkinetic stress or anxiety was really the mental state he was experiencing.

“What he should have said was ‘I’m extremely agitated, my head is wrecked, I can’t come to terms with this”, said Dr O’Domhnaill.

Mr Farrell put it to Dr O’Domhnaill that Mr Locke had expressed this, telling Ms Blount his “head was minced”.

Dr O’Domhnaill said the overwhelming impression he had of Mr Locke was of someone who was trying to meet Ms Blount to explain what he was going through.

Mr Farrell put it to Dr O'Domhnaill that he was “making it up as you go along”.

The doctor denied this, saying Mr Locke’s entire life showed he was alexithymic.

“He never clearly identified what his emotional states where, he couldn’t describe them and therefore he couldn’t get help for them”, he said.

Dr O’Domhnaill said Mr Locke’s way to deal with his anxiety, to “quieten his mind” had been to drink a bottle and a half of Jack Daniel every day.

“He couldn’t identify what he was suffering so he drank to deaden it”, said Dr O’Domhnaill.

Mr Farrell has now finished his cross examination of Dr O'Domhnaill.

The trial continues.

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