Sunday 21 January 2018

Details of kind mother's brutal murder must have been hard to hear for her loved ones

Mother-of-one Sonia Blount who was found dead in the Plaza Hotel, Tallaght, Dublin
Mother-of-one Sonia Blount who was found dead in the Plaza Hotel, Tallaght, Dublin

Eimear Cotter

Murder trials can be difficult for a victim's family. Often the person they love, the person they remember, isn't the person who is revealed in court.

It must have been incredibly difficult for Sonia Blount's family to hear the evidence during the 11-day trial. They had to sit through the evidence of State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy and listen to her describe, in detail, Sonia's injuries. They heard prosecutor Remy Farrell SC tell the jury that Sonia received a "beating".

They may have taken some comfort in Mr Farrell's comment that Sonia "clearly fought for her life".

It emerged during the trial that Sonia had taken cocaine shortly before her death. She was also meeting a stranger in a hotel room for sex. That's not the Sonia her family remembers. So who was she?

Eric Locke told Sonia she was "special", and told gardaí she was "bubbly, good fun and a great girl".

Sonia was the eldest in a family of five siblings.

She had a three-year-old son, who she adored.

She was obsessed with 'Game of Thrones' books and had a DVD collection to rival anyone in the country.

She had a tight-knit group of close friends - some of whom she'd known since playschool.

Her sister Claire Reddan said Sonia was in a relationship with her son's father, Lee, for three years, but he was "very controlling" and the relationship was "very on and off". Ms Reddan said she believed Sonia stayed with him for her son as she "didn't want to break up the family unit".

She said the relationship broke up and Lee went to Canada in August 2013. Sonia was getting back to herself, she said.

Ms Reddan said Ms Blount started dating Locke in November 2013 but it was "casual".

She broke up with Locke following an argument and told her sister she was "not going down that road again".

When Locke went missing and threatened suicide in January 2014, Ms Reddan said Sonia was worried sick about him.

In the aftermath of his suicide attempt, her friends Susan Kelly and Aisling Halloran said Sonia "wanted to help him" as she was "always worrying about other people".

Her kindness meant she responded to his texts for weeks after she broke up with him.

She later told her sister she had become concerned about Locke's behaviour at work and was going to ask to change shifts, but she hesitated doing it because she "didn't want to get him into trouble or lose his job".

Shortly after Sonia broke off contact with Locke, she began a new flirtation with 'Shane Cully' who had befriended her on Facebook.

It started off as banter, but it became more intimate, and they shared intimate pictures. They arranged to meet up.

In her messages to 'Shane Cully', Sonia indicated she was "sick with nerves" about the liaison as she had never done anything like it before.

Indeed, in earlier texts, 'Shane Cully' asked Sonia what was the wildest thing she'd ever done. She admitted she wasn't "all that crazy".

Sadly, meeting 'Shane Cully' would cost Sonia her life.

Irish Independent

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