Wednesday 18 October 2017

Blackston given three years for assaults

Paul Murphy

AN AMERICAN man was sentenced to three years with labour for assaulting two women in Japan, including a friend of Nicola Furlong, who he assaulted on the night the Wexford woman was killed.

James Blackston (23) was charged with sexually assaulting a Brazilian woman last April and assaulting Ms Furlong's friend last May in a taxi in Tokyo.

The taxi also carried his friend Richard Hinds and Ms Furlong on the night that she died.

The trial of Mr Hinds (19) for the murder of Ms Furlong in Tokyo's Keio Plaza hotel on May 24 ended earlier yesterday and a verdict is due next Tuesday.

But in the Blackston verdict, Judge Masayuki Yamada said that he assaulted Ms Furlong's friend to fulfil his "desire".

Tequila

Both the Brazilian and Irish women, referred to in court as 'victim A' and 'victim B' said they blacked out after drinking tequila that Blackston gave them.

Blackston is a professional dancer who was touring Japan with R&B singer Ai. He met with victim B at an after-concert party in the city of Kofu, about 100km west of Tokyo.

The following month he and Mr Hinds met with Victim A and Ms Furlong outside a Tokyo train station and all four went to a bar together.

Victims A and B both say that after drinking Blackston's tequila they woke up hours later in his hotel room with no recollection of how they had gotten there.

Victim B, the Brazilian woman, said that she "felt dizzy" and very sick after taking the drink.

During his trial, which finished last month, Blackston pleaded innocent and said that both women were telling "lies" and that they had willingly gone to his hotel.

He said that Ms Furlong's friend had demanded sex from him in his hotel room. Hotel CCTV footage shows Blackston pushing the apparently unconscious victim A to his hotel room in a wheelchair.

The judge ruled that neither victim A nor B provided consent. The judge took 150 days off Mr Blackston's three-year sentence for time already served on remand.

Irish Independent

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