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Sunday 24 September 2017

Killer created a fake 'Shane Cully' on Facebook a year before murder

Eric Locke created a fake Facebook identity under the name Shane Cully and lured his victim to the Plaza Hotel in Tallaght
Eric Locke created a fake Facebook identity under the name Shane Cully and lured his victim to the Plaza Hotel in Tallaght

Killer Eric Locke set up a fake Facebook account in the name of Shane Cully nearly a year before he met Sonia Blount.

Locke told a psychiatrist he picked Shane as it was the first name of a cousin and Cully because it was a friend's name.

He told consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Richard Bunn that when he was Shane Cully he didn't feel "inadequate" or "obsessive".

One of the reasons why Locke was probably able to fool Ms Blount and lure her to a hotel bedroom was that the Shane Cully profile was fully formed.

It emerged during the trial that Shane Cully had numerous friends on Facebook.

He had also posted pictures and comments. Shane Cully didn't just drop out of space a few days after Ms Blount cut off all contact with Locke.

Indeed, Dr Bunn suggested that the fake indentity was to Locke as what "Superman is to Clark Kent".

Online, Locke could - to his mind - be a better man than he believed himself to be.

This comes as an in-depth analysis of Facebook's secret rules and guidelines by UK newspaper The Guardian this week, found that the social media giant reviews more than 6.5 million reports a week relating to potentially fake accounts.

It has a staggering 1.94 billion users worldwide with 300 milion photo uploads a day across the world.

The court heard that Ms Blount did wonder if this Shane Cully might be Locke pretending to be someone else.

Shock

She told her friend and work colleague Aisling Halloran about her new man when working the early shift on February 14, 2014, saying it was just a "casual thing".

Ms Halloran gave evidence to the Central Criminal Court that she asked Ms Blount if the person she was meeting could be Locke.

She said Ms Blount admitted the "thought had crossed her mind" but she had asked Shane Cully to send her a selfie and she was satisfied the person in the picture was not Locke.

Locke later told gardai that Ms Blount got "a shock" when he walked into the room in the Plaza Hotel.

During the two-week trial, the jury heard much about Locke's mental health.

His sister Suzanne O'Neill told a psychiatrist she had "always worried" he was mentally unwell but was unsure what condition he had.

Three consultant psychiatrists gave evidence in Locke's trial, two for the defence and one for the prosecution. Their opinions on Locke differed.

Defence psychiatrist, Dr Sean O Domhnaill said Locke was "socially awkward" and "socially inept" but was able to woo Ms Blount through social media.

Dr O Domhnaill said the problem was Locke was "not that person" that Ms Blount knew through social media and he had difficulty with "face-to-face social interactions".

Witness for the State, consultant psychiatrist Dr Frank Kelly, accepted Locke had "oddities" to his behaviour.

Dr Kelly said Locke was certainly socially isolated, had low mood and had developed rituals in his teens which lasted into adulthood.

The jury was told Locke loved making lists, reading bus timetables, collecting stones and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Manchester United.

Dr Kelly said that even if Locke did suffer autistic spectrum disorder it was "very much the milder end of the range".

Dr O Domhnaill disagreed.

He suggested Locke had shown clear manifestations of autistic behaviour as a boy, including hand flapping, sensitivity to light and screeching.

He said this behaviour and his depression was exacerbated by two major incidents in his early teens, first when he was sexually abused around 12 years old and secondly when he was taunted while showering after football.

Disorder

Dr O Domhnaill diagnosed Locke with pervasive developmental disorder, autism spectrum disorder and ADHD.

Dr Kelly disagreed. He said he watched the garda interviews with Locke and found "no evidence of a serious mental illness" as Locke was able to describe in great detail the lead-up to Ms Blount's death as well as what happened afterwards.

Dr Kelly agreed with the opinion of gardai that Locke was "angry" his girlfriend was meeting a stranger for sex and this "induced a rage" for "revenge". The jury obviously agreed.

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