Monday 24 July 2017

Sonia accused 'killed out of anger, not mental illness'

Sonia Blount
Sonia Blount

Eimear Cotter

A man accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend has shown no signs of a serious mental illness and does not meet the criteria for a defence of diminished responsibility, a jury has heard.

Consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Frank Kelly was giving evidence for the prosecution in the trial of Eric Locke (35) for the murder of Sonia Blount.

The mum-of-one was found strangled in a room in the Plaza Hotel in Tallaght on February 16, 2014.

Mr Locke (35), of St John's Park East in Clondalkin, has admitted he caused her death but says he did not mean to kill her and is pleading the defence of diminished responsibility.

He used a fake Facebook profile to meet Ms Blount, whom he had briefly dated.

Dr Kelly said he agreed with the previously expressed opinion of gardaí that Mr Locke was "angry" his girlfriend was meeting a stranger for sex in a hotel room and this "induced a rage" in him for "revenge and retribution".

He said Mr Locke's intent when he strangled Ms Blount suggests "the motivation behind the act was one of extreme anger, not a mental illness".

Dr Kelly interviewed Mr Locke twice, in February and March 2017. He said Mr Locke was able to express his feelings, which mitigated against a diagnosis of pervasive development disorder (PDD) and alexithymia. Two defence psychiatrists had given evidence Mr Locke suffered from PDD with one also diagnosing alexithymia, the inability to describe emotions.

Dr Kelly said he believed PDD was a "spurious diagnosis" and, in his view, Mr Locke has anankastic or obsessive personality disorder, which is not a mental illness.

Dr Kelly said he watched the DVDs of gardaí interviews with Mr Locke.

He said he found "no evidence of a serious mental illness" as Mr Locke was able to describe in great detail the lead-up to Ms Blount's death and what happened afterwards.

He said the consultant psychiatrists who assessed Mr Locke in Cloverhill Prison also found no evidence of a serious mental illness.

Even if the court believed there was some evidence of PDD, Dr Kelly said he did not believe it was "relevant to the commission of this crime".

He said he had "no doubt" Mr Locke was in a highly distressed state in the weeks prior to Ms Blount's death, which was supported by his texts to her and his suicide attempt.

However, his mood lifted once he made contact with Ms Blount under a fake 'Shane Cully' profile and he "no longer satisfied the criteria for a major depressive episode".

Dr Kelly said Mr Locke's "elaborate preparation", namely his texts to Ms Blount, purchase of cable ties, airgun and masking tape and insistence a keycard was left at the hotel reception, was inconsistent with someone suffering a major depressive episode.

"His persistent and dodged insistence that Ms Blount leave the keycard at reception signifies he had the capacity to form an intent," he said.

Dr Kelly said Mr Locke told him he put a do not disturb sign on the bedroom door after he killed Ms Blount and then threw his mobile phone down a drain as it would "give him time to get away".

The psychiatrist said this was significant as it showed Mr Locke "knew what he was doing" and there was a "quite deliberate attempt to conceal his responsibility".

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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