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Monday 18 December 2017

Psychiatrist's evidence 'was utter nonsense', murder trial jury told

Eric Locke (p) admits causing the death of Sonia Blount
Eric Locke (p) admits causing the death of Sonia Blount

A jury in the trial of a man accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend has been told to "exercise caution" when considering the psychiatric evidence.

Defence counsel Patrick Gageby said the three psychiatrists who gave evidence were "markedly different".

"It is not their function to decide if Eric Locke is truthful," he told the jury. "You're entitled to cherry pick."

Mr Gageby said the evidence supported Eric Locke (35) having a mental disorder.

However, prosecutor Remy Farrell said the evidence clearly showed Mr Locke "knew well" what he was doing was wrong and was able to control himself.

Sonia Blount
Sonia Blount

He said there was no question of diminished responsibility due to a mental disorder.

The lawyers made the comments in their closing speeches in the trial of Mr Locke (35) for the murder of Sonia Blount.

The mum-of-one was found strangled in a room in The Plaza Hotel in Tallaght on February 16, 2014. Mr Locke, of St John's Park East, Clondalkin, has admitted he caused her death but says he did not mean to kill her and is pleading the defence of diminished responsibility.

He used a fake Facebook profile - in the name of Shane Cully - to meet Ms Blount, who he had briefly dated.

Mr Farrell said the "cornerstone" of the defence case was the evidence of psychiatrist Dr Sean O Domhnaill, who diagnosed Mr Locke with a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD).

However, Mr Farrell said the doctor's lack of familiarity with the evidence was "stunning".

"This suggests a basic concern about his competence as a witness in a case like this," he said.

Mr Farrell also described as "distasteful" a suggestion by Dr O Domhnaill that Ms Blount knew on a subconscious level that Shane Cully was Mr Locke.

"It's utter nonsense. It's quackology. There's no evidence of this. In fact, it flies in the face of the evidence," he said.

Mr Farrell said Mr Locke appears to be an "inveterate liar" and he asked the jury to look at the purpose of the lies.

Depression

Meanwhile, Mr Gageby asked the jury to read through all the texts between Mr Locke and Ms Blount, saying the relationship was "a little bit more" than a couple of dates, which had been suggested.

He also said Mr Locke's depression "didn't come from nowhere", and he questioned prosecution psychiatrist Dr Frank Kelly's assertion that it "evaporated" when Mr Locke started messaging Ms Blount using the fake Facebook profile.

Mr Gageby also said the State had not really challenged Dr O Domhnaill's finding of PDD.

The judge will give his direction to the jury on Monday.

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