Courts

Thursday 24 July 2014

I hope justice is done for Nicola, says her childhood sweetheart

Ralph Riegel

Published 15/03/2013|07:54

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Danny Furlong with Nicola: last 10 months have been a nightmare

THE boyfriend of slain Irish student Nicola Furlong (21) says he hopes justice is done for his childhood sweetheart next week when the American teen accused of killing her is told of the verdict in the case.

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League of Ireland football star Danny Furlong said the priority now for all those who knew Nicola was to support her family in the difficult days ahead.

Dancer Richard Hinds (19), from Tennessee, will be told next Tuesday whether a Japanese court holds him responsible for the murder of the young Wexford student in his high-rise Tokyo hotel room on May 24 last year.

Nicola died from strangulation in the Keio Plaza Hotel, with a Tokyo coroner finding traces of date-rape drugs in her system.

Hinds has denied murder and insisted in a tearful face-to-face statement to the shocked Furlong family that: "I firmly believe I did not kill your daughter."

However, because Hinds is considered a minor under Japanese law, he faces a maximum sentence of five to 10 years if convicted.

The Tokyo prosecutor, Kenji Horikoshi, said that if Hinds were an adult (just 18 months older) they would have sought the death penalty.

Danny Furlong (22), who left Wexford Youths to join Cork City FC last autumn, told the Irish Independent yesterday that he hopes justice will be done for Nicola.

"It is all messed up (out there). . . I don't think anyone can understand it," he said.

Mr Furlong said he cannot understand how a serious crime could, on conviction, be dealt with by such a light sentence of just 10 years.

The footballer, from Rosslare Strand, admitted the last 10 months had been a nightmare for everyone who knew and cared about Nicola.

"It has been a very tough time for everyone. But we are doing everything we can to support Nicola's mam and dad."

He described the two weeks after his girlfriend's death last year as "the worst fortnight of my life".

Danny and Nicola, childhood sweethearts, had planned to jet off to the sun together once she had returned to Ireland from her college-organised student exchange in Japan.

Instead, the footballer was one of the pall-bearers for Nicola's pink-hued coffin as she was buried in her native Wexford.

"I will be glad when it is all over as it has been very hard for everyone. But I think it would be better that if I am going to say something I should say it on Tuesday when we know what is happening (with the verdict)," he added.

DISTRAUGHT

Danny, regarded as one of the brightest prospects in League of Ireland football, said he was still struggling to come to terms with the terrible tragedy of Nicola's death.

"It has turned my whole world upside down. . . to me she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen and I was so lucky just to be with her," he said.

Danny was waiting for a phone call or text from Nicola last May to hear how she had enjoyed a Nicki Minaj concert in Tokyo when his distraught mother broke the news about her brutal killing.

Speaking at Cork City's Curraheen training ground, he admitted that it has been very difficult to follow the harrowing details of the Tokyo trial.

The trial has been marked by Richard Hinds' lack of remorse for what happened.

"I just hope justice is done," Danny said.

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