Thursday 21 September 2017

Nicola accused ‘couldn’t hurt a fly’ ex-girlfriend says

Richard Hinds is accused of killing Nicola Furlong
Richard Hinds is accused of killing Nicola Furlong
Vivian Hinds – the mother of Richard Hinds who is accused of killing Nicola Furlong – and pathologist Marianne Hamel leave Tokyo District Court

Paul Murphy in Tokyo

A FORMER girlfriend of Richard Hinds, the man accused of murdering Irish student Nicola Furlong, told a Tokyo court today that he “couldn’t hurt a fly”.

Alayna Rodgers, 20, a professional singer from the United States, said that her ex-boyfriend, a professional keyboard player, was “a sweet spirit.. he is a really great person, very thoughtful.”

She told the fifth day of the murder trial of Mr Hinds, 19, that he is a “phenomenal” musician. “It seems to be like a god-given gift,” she said. She also agreed that he was a “devout Christian.”

She also said that she had never quarrelled with him during their 11-month relationship, which started when she was 17 and he was 16. She said she had never seen him angry or drink alcohol. She also said that the break-up of their relationship was “my fault, it wasn’t anything to do with him.”

The prosecutor then read a transcript of audio recorded by a security camera in the taxi that took Mr Hinds and his friend and Ms Furlong and her Irish female friend from a bar in the Japanese capital to the hotel where Mr Hinds was staying. In it the two Irish women are apparently unconscious and the men are talking excitedly about having sex with them.

A prosecutor, Naoko Wada, read out a section of the transcript in which Mr Hinds says “these two girls are so f**ked up, hey we can f*ck them.” Ms Wada then asked Ms Rodgers: “So, you only know one side of him?”

“I know all parts of him,” Ms Rodgers replied, “we had sex, I knew him, we were together a really long time.”

Earlier in the day a medical specialist told the court that it is impossible to tell what, if any, effect the prescription drug found in the body of Nicola Furlong had on her,

Masaki Hiraiwa, a doctor and author of books on cancer, said that “It is really difficult to say because the effects will be different depending on the patient.”

He said it was likely that the stress-relieving medicine, Xanax, was taken about a “half-day” before she died and that the drug’s maximum effect would have been two hours after she took it.

He also said that the level of the drug, which can induce sleepiness, was below “the therapeutic range.” The therapeutic range refers to the level at which a drug has a clinical effect. The court also heard that the level of Xanax found in Ms Furlong’s blood was 2 nanograms per 1 ml of blood, compared to a therapeutic range of 12 to 102 nanograms.

CCTV footage taken from the taxi and hotel shows that Ms Furlong appears to have fallen unconscious for a period around three hours before she died.

She was later strangled in the hotel room of Mr Hinds, who is from Memphis, Tennessee. Earlier in the evening Ms Furlong had attended a concert with an Irish friend after which they met Mr Hinds and his friend and went to a bar together.

Dr Hiraiwa, who appeared as a witness for the defence, said that while he was not familiar with the drug Xanax, which is not sold in Japan, he was familiar with similar drugs, with the same active ingredient, Alprazolam.

He said that taken on its own, Alprazolam “doesn’t have much direct effect on motor skills or perception or the senses of a person. It has an effect on the central nervous system.” He said that it should not be mixed with alcohol. Ms Furlong’s blood test showed a blood-alcohol level of 2.14mg per 1ml of blood, just over four times the new Irish drink-driving limit.

The court heard testimony on Tuesday from the doctor who did the autopsy on Ms Furlong that the amount of prescription medication and alcohol in her blood was irrelevant in determining the cause of death.

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