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Thursday 21 September 2017

Accused 'wanted to tie ex to chair and force her to listen', murder trial told

Sonia Blount
Sonia Blount

A man accused of strangling his ex-girlfriend to death was "obsessed" with telling her how he suffered after their break-up, a jury has heard.

Eric Locke (35) told a psychiatrist he had "an out-of-body experience" when he killed mum-of-one Sonia Blount.

He wasn't able to process the ending of their relationship and became "extremely frustrated" when she cut off all communication.

A psychiatrist told the Central Criminal Court it was his belief that Mr Locke went to the Plaza Hotel, in Tallaght, with the intention of "tying Ms Blount to a chair and forcing her to listen to him".

Dr Sean O'Domhnaill said he believes Mr Locke "panicked when Ms Blount panicked and started to scream" after she saw the cable ties and duct tape he had with him.

Arousal

The doctor said Mr Locke told him, "I can't believe I did this", saying it "wasn't fair" Ms Blount's young son would grow up without a mother.

He also said Mr Locke was in an "extremely high state of anxious arousal" at the time of the killing and later told him it was "almost like watching someone else do it".

It was his opinion that Mr Locke was "mentally unwell" at the time.

Under cross-examination, Dr O'Domhnaill admitted he has never watched the DVDs of the interviews gardai conducted with the accused.

Mr Locke 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.

It is the prosecution case that Mr Locke, of St John's Park East, Clondalkin, posed as another man, "Shane Cully", on Facebook and arranged a meeting in the Plaza Hotel, where he strangled her.

Her body was found in a room in the hotel on February 16, 2014. The pair had briefly dated but the relationship ended in January 2014 after he called her a "slut" during a row.

The state case closed on Friday and the defence case has now opened.

Dr O'Domhnaill told the court that, in his opinion, Mr Locke has a pervasive developmental disorder and displays some, but not all, the features of autism spectrum disorder, as well as hyperkinetic disorder, or ADHD. He also suffers from a very severe generalised anxiety disorder.

Dr O'Domhnaill said these conditions would have rendered Mr Locke incapable of being fully responsible for his actions, and his mental state was such that he would be described as having diminished responsibility at the time of Ms Blount's death.

He met Mr Locke as well as his family, and he said it was obvious from his family that, from an early age, he showed clear manifestations of autistic behaviour, as well as classic signs of ADHD.

The psychiatrist said it app-ears Mr Locke wooed Ms Blount over social media, but he was awkward in social situations and was not the same in person as he was online. 

Breakdown

He also said Mr Locke wasn't able to process the breakdown of his relationship with Ms Blount. There were a lot of texts between the pair at the start of their relationship.

"For Eric, there was this intense back and forth communication and, all of a sudden, it had ended. He wasn't able to process this," said Dr O'Domhnaill.

"One day he was in a serious relationship and the next day he was being blanked. He didn't get it and became extremely frustrated."

He said Mr Locke was "obsessed" with explaining his feelings to Ms Blount, and with sitting in front of her and communicating with her.

"He needed her to see how much he was suffering," said Dr O'Domhnaill.

The trial continues.

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