A 35-year-old man accused of murdering a woman in a Dublin hotel room three years ago has been found guilty by a jury at the Central Criminal Court.

Eric Locke, with an address at St John's Park East in Clondalkin, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Sonia Blount at a room in the Plaza Hotel in Tallaght on 16 February 2014.

The court heard that he had assumed a false identity in order to meet his former girlfriend in a hotel room, where he strangled her.

The court was also told that Locke said he wanted to frighten her and force her to listen to an account of his suffering, but did not intend to kill her.

The verdict was unanimous after the jury deliberated for an hour and 33 minutes.

Locke will be sentenced to the mandatory term of life in prison next Friday.
Ms Blount's family and friends gasped, wept and hugged each other in the court after the jury delivered its verdict.

The mother-of-one was single when she began a brief relationship with Locke in late 2013, when he began working in the same factory that she had worked in for almost a decade.

He did not take the ending of the relationship well and continued to text and contact her through Facebook for some time until she blocked him.

In February 2014, she was contacted on Facebook by a man called Shane Cully, conversed with him and agreed to meet him at the Plaza Hotel in Tallaght.

The 31-year-old went to the hotel on 16 February 2014 and when 'Shane Cully' arrived she discovered he was, in fact, Locke who came armed with cable ties, masking tape and a realistic-looking airgun.

He tied Ms Blount up, stuffed her t-shirt into her mouth and strangled her with his hands and a phone cable.

He subsequently admitted the killing but said he did not mean it.

He said he panicked when Ms Blount became distressed once she saw the weapons.

The jury of eight men and four unanimously rejected the defence that Locke was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the killing.

Mr Justice Michael Moriarty adjourned the case for a victim impact statement and sentencing but Eric Locke now faces only one possible sentence - the mandatory term of life in prison.