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Man accused of murdering ex-girlfriend 'had a problem with change', court hears

Eric Locke used used the fake Facebook profile to meet the woman.

Sonia Bount was killed 16 February 2014.
Sonia Bount was killed 16 February 2014.
Image: Facebook

Updated 9.04 pm 

A DEFENCE PSYCHIATRIST has agreed with the State that a Dublin man engaged in ‘a great degree of planning’ in the days before he killed his ex-girlfriend, that the strangling itself was intentional and that he had lied to save his skin.

However, he had earlier told the man’s trial that his responsibility for strangling her in a city hotel room was diminished due to his mental state at the time.

The doctor was giving evidence for the defence this morning in the Central Criminal Court trial of Eric Locke, who used a fake Facebook profile to meet the woman, whom he had briefly dated.

Locke is charged with murdering 31-year-old Sonia Blount in a room at the Plaza Hotel in Tallaght on 16 February 2014.

The 35-year-old, with an address at St John’s Park East in Clondalkin, has pleaded not guilty, but admits causing the death of the mother-of-one, who was found strangled and suffocated.

Dr Richard Bunn, a consultant forensic psychiatrist with the NHS in Belfast, told Patrick Gageby SC, defending, that he interviewed Locke in Cloverhill Prison in April of this year.

The accused was confined to wearing a poncho in a padded cell for his safety at the time, having reacted badly to being moved from working alone to working with other inmates.

“I like stability. I’ve always had a problem with change,” he’d told the doctor.

However, he told the doctor that she had, more or less, ignored him and was ‘oblivious to his pain’.

Locke had then organised to meet her using a false identity, having previously set up a Facebook profile in the name of Shane Cully. H

e told Dr Bunn that he had brought a pellet gun to point at her so she would have to listen and duct tape to put over her mouth so she wouldn’t converse.

In his description of himself, Locke told the doctor that he believed he was ‘a lovely person, genuinely peaceful’.

In the doctor’s assessment of him, he found Mr Locke lacking empathy.

Adjustment disorder 

The doctor was satisfied with previous diagnoses of an adjustment disorder due to the stress of prison and court, and of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder. He also found that Locke had symptoms of ADHD.

He said he did not accept Locke’s account of having an ‘out-of-body experience’ when strangling the victim.

However, he said he was satisfied that he fulfilled the criteria for Diminished Responsibility as a partial defence for murder due to a ‘constellation of symptoms’.

He said there was objective evidence from medical staff that his thinking was ‘clearly disturbed’ at the time leading up to the incident.

Dr Bunn is being cross-examined by the State this afternoon.

Planning

Dr Seán Ó Domhnaill testified on Monday that he diagnosed Locke with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and gave his opinion that his mental state meant he had ‘diminished responsibility’ for the killing.

Being cross-examined yesterday, Ó Domhnaill agreed that there was element of planning” in how he got himself into the victim’s hotel room unrecognised.

He agreed that several messages asking her to leave a keycard for the room at reception were to ensure she wouldn’t look through the peephole when he’d knock on the door.

He said he believed that Mr Locke had intended tying Blount to a chair and forcing her to listen to an account of his suffering, but didn’t intend to kill her.

The trial has already heard that Locke used the fake Facebook profile to meet Blount at the hotel, after she stopped contact with him.

He said he brought a pellet gun, a Stanley knife and cable ties to frighten her, but she screamed when she saw them and he strangled her.

The trial continues before a jury of eight men and four women.

Comments have been closed for legal reasons. 

Read: ‘Element of planning’ in how Eric Locke got into ex-girlfriend’s hotel room >

Read: Murder accused ‘intended tying ex-girlfriend to chair and make her listen to his suffering’, court hears >

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Natasha Reid

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