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Murder accused said ex-girlfriend was 'ripping him off' and tried to hack her Facebook page

A friend testified that Sonia Blount said Eric Locke was a “whackjob”.

Image: Mark Stedman/Rollingnews.ie

A DUBLIN MAN tried to have his ex-girlfriend’s Facebook and email accounts hacked a week before he’s alleged to have murdered her in a hotel room, his trial has heard.

The court also heard today that she’d described Eric Locke as a ‘whack job’ to a friend, and had asked the accused to stop looking over at her at work because it was freaking her out.

The 35-year-old is on trial at the Central Criminal Court, charged with murdering mother-of-one Sonia Blount in a room at the Plaza Hotel in Tallaght on 16 February 2014.

Locke, with an address at St John’s Park East in Clondalkin, has pleaded not guilty, but admits causing the death of the 31-year-old, who was found strangled and suffocated.

The court heard yesterday that Locke had threatened suicide when their relationship broke down that January. They then exchanged many messages about his health and recovery.

However, garda Mark Shortt provided the jury with more messages yesterday, in which Locke accused her of blanking him when he returned to work, of being blunt and cold-hearted.

He said that it was making him feel like a monster. She denied this, but asked him to stop looking over at her at work because it was freaking her out.

The last text message exchanged between them was on 8 February. The following day, he asked his sister to ask an acquaintance if he could hack Blount’s Facebook page.

“She’s ripping me off”

“I need a favour. I’m back with that girl,” he told his sister, Kim Locke. “She’s ripping me off behind my back.”

He said he had the information from two reliable sources at work but needed to know for sure if it was true, so he could stay away from her.

“Can you ask Tappo to hack her Facebook page?” he asked, describing Ms Blount’s profile picture.

“Don’t like being messed about like that if it’s true,” he added.

He was told that it couldn’t be done because her profile was private.

His sister advised him to approach the girl or just walk away, but Locke asked if ‘Tappo’ could hack into emails. He was told he couldn’t do this either.

The jury then heard the content of what was described as ‘Facebook chat between Sonia Blount and Shane Cully/Eric Locke’. It’s the State’s case that Eric Locke had created Shane Cully’s identity on the site in order to meet her.

The court heard and saw intimate messages and pictures shared between them. They arranged to meet for sex in the Plaza Hotel on the night of 15 February.

The court had already seen footage of Blount arriving at her room in the hotel that evening, and of Locke arriving to the room a couple of hours later.

More footage showed Locke running away from the hotel around 5.40am, hours before her body was found on the floor of the room, along with an imitation firearm, cable ties and duct tape.

Many of the messages focussed on Cully repeatedly asking her to leave a key card for him at reception.

She was already in the room and repeatedly pleaded with him not to make her do that, suggesting he just knock on the door. She eventually organised the key card for him and he told her he would let her know when at the hotel.

However, the last message between them was sent at 11.58pm, with Blount asking: “You close? Falling asleep here.”

The jury had seen Locke leave the reception desk around that time.

Abusive relationship

Blount’s lifelong friend, Susan Kelly, testified that the deceased had previously been in an abusive relationship, where her partner had controlled her. She said Blount was relieved when this man left the country in September, 2013.

“She was happy to be on her own at that stage. She was getting back to herself,” she said.

Kelly knew that her friend had gone out with Eric Locke a few times, beginning in December, 2013. She didn’t get the impression that it was serious.

She recalled Blount phoning her following her last night out with him.

“She said he became abusive, she was only talking to another lad and he was involved in that conversation,” she testified. “She wasn’t going to get into another abusive relationship, and he was very full on.”

She recalled his sister contacting Blount one day he had gone missing, and said the deceased had felt guilty.

“She was always worrying about other people,” she explained. “She felt sorry that he felt differently to her.”

She said Blount had seemed a bit preoccupied after that.

“She said he wouldn’t leave her alone and she was starting to get a bit worried about the situation. She wasn’t sleeping either,” she said.

She became upset in the witness box when she said she had been afraid that Blount might have been meeting him on February 15th.

“I was hoping it wasn’t Eric,” she said.

She said Blount had assured her that she wasn’t meeting ‘that whack job from work’, saying ‘that’d be a nightmare’.

“She was always wanting to help someone and I was always saying this isn’t someone you help, you just walk away from,” she said.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Michael Moriarty and a jury of eight men and four women.

Comments have been closed for legal reasons.

Read: Ex-boyfriend ‘pleaded for another chance’ before strangling woman in hotel room

Read: Fake gun, cable ties and duct tape found beside body of Sonia Blount in hotel room, court hears

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Natasha Reid

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