Friday 18 August 2017

Murder accused sent mother series of texts pleading for 'one last chance' before luring her to hotel room

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

Eimear Cotter

A former model accused of strangling his ex-girlfriend to death sent her a series of texts pleading with her to forgive him and give their relationship "one last chance", a jury has heard.

Mum of one Sonia Blount broke up with her former boyfriend Eric Locke (35) after he made disparaging comments about her in an argument after they attended a music gig.

In the texts, Mr Locke declared his love for Ms Blount, accepted he had "f**ked up" and "acted like a d*ck" and begged her to give him one final chance.

Sonia told Mr Locke he was "a lovely bloke with a good heart", but she refused to rekindle the relationship, repeatedly telling him "leave me be" and "I'm done".

Eric Locke
Eric Locke
Sonia Blount

Locke has admitted he caused the death of Sonia Blount at The Plaza Hotel in Tallaght 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.

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.

A series of text messages sent between the pair in January and February 2014 was read out to the jury at the Central Criminal Court.

Prosecutor Remy Farrell SC said there was a substantial number of texts between them prior to January 11, 2014, but this trial would focus on texts from that date.

Mr Farrell said the couple went to a gig in Vicar Street and there was an argument.

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

In Mr Locke's messages he tells Sonia "I feel awful about what I said to you" and "I'm so, so sorry, I acted like a d*ck".

The court heard Mr Locke said he made the comments "to get emotion out" of Ms Blount, as he did not know how she felt about him.

The jury was read a long series of texts where Mr Locke begs Sonia to forgive him for his behaviour, saying he was hammered and got "a little insecure".

He told Ms Blount his "stomach was in knots" that he had hurt her and thinks she's "a special person".

However, Ms Blount responded saying he called her "mad" and she "just won't take sh*t like that again".

In the texts, Sonia also tells him "please now, just stop".

In a series of texts sent on January 13, 2014, the jury heard Mr Locke had walked out of work, a place where Sonia also worked.

He begs Ms Blount to meet him for coffee, and later tells her that he is "checking out".

She repeatedly asks him to contact his family as they are looking for him.

Later that day, Mr Locke texts her that he is in a hotel room with a rope, and tells her to "take care".

Six hours later he texts again asking her to meet him, telling her he couldn't do it and is "really on edge".

Mr Locke then reveals he's getting help in Tallaght Hospital and is severely depressed.

He asks Ms Blount if she will still be with him when he gets sorted out, adding "all I wanted was for you to hug me yesterday".

Ms Blount replied: "Just stop now Eric, I'm done".

Earlier, a taxi driver told the court that Mr Locke said to him "I won't be going there again" when he picked him up outside The Plaza Hotel shortly after 5.30am on February 16, 2014.

Ian McEvoy said he came forward when he saw Mr Locke's picture in the papers

The court heard Mr McEvoy asked Mr Locke if he had a good night, and he replied "I won't be going there again".

He said he noted fingernail scraps on the accused's face, around his left cheek, and they were "very noticeable".

Mr McEvoy said Mr Locke told him he'd been in the nightclub and was dancing with a girl when her boyfriend came over and gave him a few smacks.

The taxi driver told the court he said to the man "you're going to have to explain that to everybody", and Mr Locke just shrugged.

The trial continues.

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