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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Worried Sonia Blount confided in friend that murder accused Locke was a 'whackjob', court hears

Main picture, Eric Locke, inset, left at court today, inset right Sonia Blount
Main picture, Eric Locke, inset, left at court today, inset right Sonia Blount

Eimear Cotter

A young woman told her best friend that her ex-boyfriend was "very full on", was a "whackjob" and she was getting worried as he wouldn't leave her alone, a jury has heard.

Mum-of-one Sonia Blount always wanted to help people but her friend Susan Kelly told a jury that Eric Locke was "not someone you help, you just walk away".

There were also rumours at the pair's workplace that Mr Locke (35) was stalking her, and while she told him she wasn't aware of the rumours she said he kept looking at her and it was "freaking her out".

The Central Criminal Court also heard that Mr Locke asked if a friend could hack her Facebook account as he feared Sonia Blount was "ripping him off behind his back".

Mr Locke has admitted he caused the death of Sonia Blount at The Plaza Hotel in Tallaght on February 16, 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.

Sonia Blount
Sonia Blount

The prosecution case is that the Dubliner assumed a false identity online in order to lure her to the hotel bedroom, where he strangled and suffocated her to death.

The jury has been told it will be asked to focus on the mental state of the accused at the time of the killing.

Susan Kelly told the court that she and Sonia had been friends since playschool.

Ms Kelly said Sonia was in an abusive relationship with the farther of her young son, who "controlled" what she did.

He went to Canada in 2013 and Sonia was "happy, getting back to herself".

Ms Kelly said Sonia went on a couple of dates with Mr Locke in December 2013 but it "wasn't a big serious relationship" as far as she was concerned.

On January 11, 2014, Ms Kelly said she had a number of missed calls from Sonia and when she rang her back she said she wasn't seeing Mr Locke again as he had become abusive.

She said Sonia told her he was "very fully on" and she did not want to get into another abusive relationship.

The funeral cortage of Sonia Blount (inset) pictured leaving the Holy Rosary Church, Ballycragh
The funeral cortage of Sonia Blount (inset) pictured leaving the Holy Rosary Church, Ballycragh

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

In the weeks afterwards, Ms Kelly said Sonia seemed a bit preoccupied, telling her Mr Locke wouldn't leave her alone, she wasn't sleeping and was "getting worried about the situation".

Ms Kelly said Sonia was due to go out with her on the evening before she died, but she cancelled saying she was tired and going to bed.

Ms Kelly said she didn't believe her as "Sonia would never let me down".

The jury was told Ms Kelly believed she was going to meet a man, and when she told Sonia she hoped it wasn't Eric, she replied "no, that would be a nightmare, not that whackjob from work".

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

Earlier, the jury heard that on the night she died Ms Blount had arranged to meet a stranger in a hotel bedroom for a one night stand.

Text messages read to the jury at the Central Criminal Court indicated she was "sick with nerves" about the liaison as she had never done it before.

She had spent the previous few days sexting with the fictitious "Shane Cully", who in reality was Mr Locke.

Garda Mark Shortt led the jury through the Facebook Messanger texts, which started as banter but became quite intimate and of a private nature.

The fake "Shane Cully" sent her pictures of an erect penis and told her the pair would be "f**k buddies".

She admitted in texts to him that she was sick with nerves as she had never done anything like that before.

The jury also heard further evidence of texts between Mr Locke and Ms Blount.

Read More: Murder accused told taxi man: 'I won't be going there again' shortly after strangling ex to death

On February 5, 2014, he had accused her of blocking him on Facebook and blanking him at work, saying "why can't you even look at me, it just hurts. I'm afraid we're not even going to be friends".

Ms Blount denied this, saying she had been talking to him earlier, though in a later text she revealed she was "afraid that talking to you will give you the wrong impression" and "I'm not blanking you, I'm just not as friendly as I was".

The next day, he text he'd heard a rumour in work he was stalking her. He said there was "no truth" to it, and it was a "horrible thing to say".

Ms Blount text she hadn't heard the rumours, though she added: "You keeping looking over at me though and it's freaking me out".

The pair continued to communicate until February 8, 2014 when the texts stopped.

Mr Locke subsequently text his sister Kim, asking if she would ask a mutual friend if he could hack Ms Blount's Facebook page as he had heard she was "ripping him off behind his back".

He said he "needed to know" so he could "stay away from her"

Kim Locke said he should stay away from Ms Blount and he "deserved much better".

In later texts, his sister told him that Ms Blount's account was private and it couldn't be hacked.

The trial continues.

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