We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Gardaí questioning guests at the hotel following the discovery of Sonia Blount's body. Mark Stedman/
eric locke

'I just wanted to frighten her': Murder accused stared at ex in work and sent her a 'suicide text'

Eric Locke said he had just wanted to talk after Sonia Blount stopped all contact with him.

Updated 5.22pm

A DUBLIN MAN, who set up a fake Facebook account in order to meet his ex-girlfriend, told gardaí he strangled her because she screamed when she saw the pellet gun, Stanley knife and cable ties he’d brought to frighten her.

Eric Locke said he had just wanted to talk after Sonia Blount stopped all contact with him.

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

Mr 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.

Detective Garda Camon Ryan said he began interviewing the accused that night, after he’d handed himself in at a city garda station.

He told officers that he’d been suffering with depression for years, but that meeting Blount a few months earlier had brought him ‘back up’.

He said they’d finished about four weeks earlier and she had later ended communication with him.

“It brought me back down,” he said.

“I used my hands on her neck”

He said he set up a fake Facebook account in the name of Shane Cully, and arranged to meet her through it.

“I went into town. I purchased masking tape, cable ties, a pellet gun and a Stanley blade,” he recalled. “I just wanted to frighten her. I didn’t mean to do it.”

He said he’d used the keycard that she’d left at reception to let himself into the room.

“She got a shock it was me,” he said.

He said he told her he just wanted to talk and began asking her why she’d finished it and cut contact.

He said she hadn’t asked him to leave, but had wanted them to leave together.

“I thought that once we got to reception she’d just scream and that’s what stopped me,” he said.

“I took out the things and put them on the bed and she was terrified,” he said. “She was frantic. We had a fight and it happened.”

“I used my hands on her neck,” he recalled.

He was asked what she had done while he had been strangling her and he pointed to scratches on his face. He was asked if she had said anything.

“She said: ‘Eric, what are you doing?’ but her voice was low,” he replied.

He initially denied using anything other than his hands. However, he admitted using the cable of a phone charger ‘briefly’, after a bloodstained charger was shown to him.

He said he had put her top in her mouth because he panicked.

“She was breathing heavy. I thought someone would hear,” he explained.

He said he wasn’t sure if she was dead when he left around 6am. He said he had attempted suicide before deciding to hand himself in.

He denied raping her, saying they had consensual sex before she saw the items he’d brought.

“I’m confessing to killing Sonia, not murdering, because I didn’t intend for her to die,” he said.

He was asked how he felt about her three-year-old son growing up without his mother.

“Devastated,” he replied. “He’s never going to get to know his mother. He’ll feel empty, he has no mother.”

“A proper fruit loop”

The court had earlier heard from her sister, Claire Reddan, who said Blount had been the eldest of five siblings.

She told Farrell that her sister had been very upset and worried about Locke after he had threatened suicide and gone missing that January. She said she wasn’t sleeping, couldn’t eat and wondered if it was her fault.

“She just couldn’t believe this was happening with someone… There wasn’t a major relationship there to cause this,” explained Reddan

“She told me that he kept texting her all the time and she kept saying: ‘It’s not what I want’, to just leave her alone,” she said.

Reddan said that Blount had put a post on Facebook that February 9th, saying: ‘The Shit’s going to hit the fan’.

“I knew it was obviously about Eric,” she said, recalling that she had asked Blount about it.

“She said he was freaking her out, staring at her in work,” she said. “She was going to ask to change shifts so she didn’t have to see him.. She said: ‘He’s a proper fruit loop’.”

Blount’s friend and colleague, Aisling Halloran, testified that Blount had told her about their row on their last date.

“She was out having a smoke and talking to another guy,” she told Farrell. “He came out and told her she was taking too long. He called her a slut.”

Blount had also confided in Halloran that she was going to meet a man called Shane Cully, who had befriended her on Facebook

“I said, ‘Are you sure that’s not Eric just pretending to be someone else?’ She said the thought crossed her mind,” explained Ms Halloran. “But she asked him to send her a selfie.”

She said he had, and that it had satisfied her.

“Heartfelt apology”

The court also heard the contents of a letter written to Blount on January 24th that year. It was signed, Eric.

Detective Garda Ciaran O’Neill told Farrell that he’d found it in her home following her death.

She was told that it was a ‘heartfelt apology’ for what he had said to her and for a ‘suicide text’ he had sent her following their break up.

“Things just got wild for a while,” he wrote, adding that he didn’t want to cause ‘any more damage’.

“People looking from the outside in didn’t know where my head was at, and you didn’t either,” he continued. “I should have sorted it out a while ago. It’s very hard for a man to open up.”

He said he was disgusted with the position he had put her in ‘that day’.

“The weight of the world must have been on your shoulders,” he wrote. “You were put in an impossible position.”

He said that he just got depressed about where his life was.

“31 years old and all my mates are married, have kids, have mortgages,” he wrote. “My life remains static.”

He wrote that what he had said to her was ‘not personal’.

“It’s just so fucking unfortunate we came across each other at this point in my life,” he wrote, telling her he was now attending weekly counselling.

However, he then wrote of being disappointed and surprised that she hadn’t stood beside him.

“I know lads who’ve ripped their partners off and get another chance,” he wrote. “We could have had something good.”

He said that if she had sent him ‘a suicide text’ but he had known that she was suffering from depression, he ‘simply could not walk away’.

“I would wait around for you until you’d get to that better place,” he wrote.

He signed off by saying that she was an amazing mother, had everything going for her and that he hoped they’d ‘all find happiness’.

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

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

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.