Thursday 23 October 2014

Nicola had ‘date rape’ drugs in her system, court told

Paul Murphy in Tokyo

Published 04/03/2013 | 07:30

Nicola Furlong
Nicola Furlong

The blood of murdered Wexford woman Nicola Furlong tested positive for two drugs which have previously been implicated in date rape cases, a Tokyo court heard today.

The test results showing the presence of sleeping drug Xanax and Lidocaine were revealed today as the trial opened of Richard Hinds, 19, for the murder of Ms Furlong at the Keio Plaza hotel in Tokyo on May 24 last year.

Prosecutors claim she and her friend were drugged by two Americans they drank with after meeting them by chance outside a train station.  The women were brought back to the hotel by taxi in an apparently unconscious state where they were allegedly assaulted.

However, the man accused of the murder of Ms Furlong denied he was the cause of her death saying, he had no “intent, motive or reason to hurt, harm or kill her.” Mr Hinds said, “I did lightly press her neck” but he said, contrary to the prosecutors’ case, he “did not use any object or towel” to strangle her.

“I do not believe I was the cause of her death because the pressure was too light,” he told a packed courtroom that included the parents and sister of Ms Furlong and her parents Andrew and Angela.

The prosecutor, however, called for a severe punishment, saying that Mr Hinds had shown no sign of remorse. The prosecutor also said that white marks on Ms Furlong’s neck showed that Mr Hinds “put considerable pressure on her neck over a sustained period,” the prosecutor said.

The prosecution also said that an analysis of blood stains on the bed sheet and on a towel matched the DNA of Ms Furlong. They believe that Ms Furlong was strangled by a towel or other object.

The court today heard opening statements from the defence and the prosecution outlining in general terms the arguments they will be making over the two-week trial.

The defence argued that there are other factors which could explain the death of Ms Furlong. The defence lawyer said that it is “not clear” how she died and citing the blood tests, he said “there is a strong possibility that she died from mixture of drugs and alcohol.”

Earlier, a written statement was read by the barman in the Scramble Bar where the four had been drinking. It said the women drank three tequilas and had a vodka and Red Bull bought for them but he wasn’t sure if they drank them.

The defence also said that after Ms Furlong fell unconscious in Mr Hinds’ room he called his friend on the telephone. “He looked for help from his friend, is that the action of a man who has murdered?” he asked.

One of the lawyers for Mr Hinds said he put his hand over Ms Furlong’s mouth and her neck after he had refused to have sex with her. They emphasised that he had no motive or intent to kill her.

The prosecution, however, introduced stills from a CCTV camera in the elevator of the Keio Plaza, which showed Ms Furlong apparently unconscious being brought up to Mr Hinds room in a hotel wheelchair

The court also heard testimony from Takuya Niwano, the duty manager from the hotel on the night Ms Furlong was killed.  He said he helped to arrange the wheelchairs for Ms Furlong and her friend, in the belief that they had simply too much to drink. That was at about 1:15am, two hours later, following a complaint about noise coming from Mr Hinds’ room, he arrived outside the door of the room. He said he heard a man’s voice from inside saying “she has no breath.” When the duty manager knocked on the door he was let in and saw Ms Furlong on the floor.

“Her lips were white,” he said, I gave her CPR emergency resuscitation.” But he failed to revive her.

Ms Furlong was pronounced dead later in hospital.

The taxi CCTV footage was also played to the six lay judges and three professional judges. The public gallery could not see the video but could hear some of the audio.

In it, the men are heard laughing while talking about having sex with the women, saying that the women “were just falling into our lap”.

In the tape, Richard Hinds says, “we gotta keep them f**ked up,” while his friend, James Blackston, said “we are going to f**k them and leave them in my room”.

Ms Furlong’s parents, who were sitting in special seats behind the prosecution, could see the CCTV footage and were visibly shocked by what they were watching.

The trial continues tomorrow.

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