Tuesday 23 January 2018

Accused 'lied to save his skin' over Sonia death

Eric Locke ‘could have chosen not to strangle Sonia Blount’
Eric Locke ‘could have chosen not to strangle Sonia Blount’

Eimear Cotter

A defence psychiatrist has agreed with prosecution claims that a murder accused intentionally strangled his ex-girlfriend and then lied to save his skin.

Consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Richard Bunn said Eric Locke (35) could have chosen not to strangle Sonia Blount and was not insane at the time.

Dr Bunn said he did not believe Mr Locke's account that he felt "outside his body", and "couldn't stop" when he strangled Ms Blount.

Mr Locke is charged with the murder of the mum-of-one, who was found strangled and suffocated in a room in the Plaza Hotel in Tallaght on February 16, 2014.

Mr Locke, of St John's Park East in Clondalkin, 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.

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

Dr Bunn interviewed Mr Locke in Cloverhill Prison on April 7, 2017. He said he was "looking for evidence of a mental disorder".

In his assessment of Mr Locke, Dr Bunn told the Central Criminal Court he did not accept the accused was insane at the time of the killing and there was no evidence of a psychotic illness.

However, he said Mr Locke did fulfil the criteria for diminished responsibility. He said a "constellation of symptoms" led him to this finding, including Mr Locke's pervasive development disorder, his borderline personality traits, his adult ADHD and the fact that he was "clearly suicidal" at the time.

The psychiatrist accepted Mr Locke gave "a variety of accounts over a period of time", both to gardaí, as well as to him and another defence psychiatrist, Dr Seán Ó Domhnaill, but said he believed the "gross narrative was consistent".

He denied Mr Locke was a compulsive liar, but accepted he was a "purposeful liar".

"He was lying for a good reason," he said.

"To save his skin," said prosecutor Remy Farrell.

Dr Bunn agreed with Mr Farrell that Mr Locke could have exercised self-control at the time of the killing, but did not do so. This included when he stopped strangling her with a phone charger and used his hands.

He agreed that using a charger, putting his hands around her neck and shoving a top into her mouth were all intentional.

Dr Bunn accepted that whatever Mr Locke's levels of anxiety, he had "clearly planned and carried out an elaborate false imprisonment" of Ms Blount.

He said he disagreed with Dr Ó Domhnaill that Mr Locke's only purposeful act was dumping his mobile phone. The whole purpose of everything Mr Locke did was to ensure Ms Blount was on her own in the hotel room, the jury heard.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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