Thursday 14 December 2017

Model used fake Facebook identity to lure ex to hotel and strangle her, court told

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

Eimear Cotter

A former male model allegedly assumed a false identity on social media and lured his former girlfriend to a hotel bedroom where he strangled her to death.

Eric Locke (35) has admitted he caused the death of mother-of-one Sonia Blount in a hotel room in Tallaght in February 2014.

He had been in a brief relationship with Ms Blount but it had fizzled out and a court heard that he did not take the break-up well.

A jury at the Central Criminal Court was told by prosecutors that it was going to be asked to concentrate on Mr Locke's mental state at the time of Ms Blount's death.

The accused, with an address at St John's Park East in Clondalkin, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Sonia Blount at The Plaza Hotel in Tallaght on February 16, 2014.

In his opening address to the jury, prosecutor Remy Farrell SC said this case was "not a whodunit" but rather the jury would be asked to concentrate on the mental state of the accused.

Former model Eric Locke (35)
Former model Eric Locke (35)

Mr Farrell told the court that Ms Blount was a 31-year-old single mother who had a three-year-old boy from a previous relationship. He said she had a brief relationship with Mr Locke in late 2013, but by early January 2014 that relationship had fizzled out.

Mr Farrell said it appears Mr Locke did not take the break-up very well. By early February 2014, Mr Farrell said it appeared the situation had calmed down and Mr Locke had accepted the break-up of the relationship.

After the first week of February, Mr Farrell said Ms Blount stopped communicating with Mr Locke - specifically she blocked him on Facebook.

Mr Farrell said it seemed Mr Locke was very unhappy that Ms Blount was no longer communicating with him.

As far as Ms Blount's point of view, there matters lay, the lawyer added. By mid-February 2014, Mr Farrell said Ms Blount had been in contact with a man who went by the name of 'Shane Cully' on Facebook.

The messaging began as banter, but developed into more risqué and intimate private messaging, and the pair later arranged to meet up for a sexual encounter.

"The chat resulted in an arrangement being made that on the evening of February 15, Sonia Blount would meet Shane Cully in the Plaza Hotel in Tallaght," he said.

Mr Farrell said on February 15, 2014, Ms Blount celebrated her son's birthday party in Rathfarnham. She also indicated to family she was going out with a female friend that night.

The jury heard Ms Blount checked into the Plaza Hotel shortly after 9pm. Shane Cully was going to come along later and Ms Blount arranged a keycard be left for him at reception.

"Later that evening, somebody did arrive at the Plaza Hotel, but it wasn't Shane Cully," said Mr Farrell. There was no Shane Cully, but rather Mr Locke had assumed a false identity and arranged to meet Ms Blount, he said.

Mr Farrell said Mr Locke brought cable ties, masking tape and an airgun to the hotel. The jury was told that Ms Blount's remains were found later on February 16 lying on the floor of the bedroom. There was a garment in her mouth and she died by asphyxiation and strangulation. The trial continues before Mr Justice Michael Moriarty and a jury of eight men and four women.

Irish Independent

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