Wednesday 23 May 2018

‘Nicola shouted at me because I said no to sex,’ murder accused Richard Hinds tells Japan trial

Richard Hinds and, inset, Nicola Furlong
Richard Hinds and, inset, Nicola Furlong

Paul Murphy in Tokyo

The man accused of murdering Irish student Nicola Furlong by strangulation said the 21-year-old student had started to shout at him in his hotel room because he refused to have full sexual intercourse with her.

“That was when I pressed her neck” Richard Hinds, 19, told Tokyo District Court on the sixth day of his trial. “She was talking loudly first but gradually she quieted down.”  Then, he said, “I remember hearing her breathe abnormally” and she began to lose consciousness.

He also claimed that she had wanted him to press her neck earlier during sex and that he did it again to “please her” sexually as well as stop her shouting.

He explained that he refused her alleged demands for sex because he did not have a condom.

However, he acknowledged that police had found an unused condom in his jeans pocket.

Footage from a CCTV camera shows Mr Hinds pushing an apparently unconscious Ms Furlong in a wheelchair into his hotel room at Tokyo’s Keio Plaza hotel in the early hours of last May 24th. About two and a half hours later she was found lifeless on the floor of his room.

The defendant, who pleads not guilty to murder, said he pressed on Ms Furlong’s neck for “not longer than 30 seconds” before she passed out. He admits to signing a statement to police that he had pressed her neck for 2-3 minutes but said he asked police to amend that statement - to include the 30-second figure - and they failed to do so.

In response to a series of questions -- today’s sessions were given over entirely to defence lawyer questioning -- Mr Hinds agreed that when he was pressing Ms Furlong’s neck, she did not show “resistance”, “suffering” or “fear”.

He also said that when he noticed Ms Furlong had stopped breathing he tried to resuscitate her using mouth-to-mouth and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

Asked to explain a blood stain on a hotel bed sheet that matched Ms Furlong’s DNA he said that during sex she had vomited blood. “While she was vomiting the blood she had her head in between her arms lying on the bed,” he said. He said that after she had stopped vomiting, “I asked her if she would like to continue sex.” He claims that sex then resumed.

The Furlong family were visibly distraught during the testimony. Speaking to reporters after the hearing Angela Furlong, the mother of the victim, said “I am shocked by the answers he gave today, it is horrible to have to listen to what came out of him.”

Ms Furlong’s sister Andrea said, “I think no-one should have to hear that about someone that they love... it’s not right, it’s disgusting.”

Earlier in the day, Mr Hinds described a recorded conversation in which he spoke profanely about having sex with Ms Furlong as she slumped apparently unconscious as “ironic” and that he didn’t mean what he “was saying.”

In the conversation, which was recorded on the CCTV camera of a taxi which took Ms Furlong and her, also apparently unconscious, friend from a bar to Tokyo’s Keio Plaza hotel where Ms Furlong was killed, Richard Hinds said to his friend, “these two girls are so f**ked up, hey, we can f**k them.

“It’s very ironic, we use words that don’t mean exactly what we are saying,” said Mr Hinds today.

When asked by his defence lawyer, “In your community, and between black men, is this normal conversation?” Mr Hinds, who is an African-American, answered “Yes.”

The CCTV camera also records Mr Hinds’ friend, an American professional dancer called James Blackston, allegedly assaulting Ms Furlong’s friend in the back seat. Mr Hinds, who had been in the front passenger seat of the cab at the time, said today that he was not aware of that incident when he was in the taxi.

Mr Blackston’s trial for assaulting Ms Furlong’s friend ended last month and a verdict is expected on Wednesday.

Mr Hinds told the court today that he and Mr Blackston had first met Ms Furlong and her friend outside a train station as they made their way from a Nicki Minaj concert at the Zepp Tokyo venue on the evening of May 23rd.

He said that the women, who were DCU exchange students studying Japanese and business, had struck up a conversation by asking the two men if they could speak English. He also said that the men had offered to allow the women to stay in their hotel rooms soon after they met them and that Ms Furlong’s friend had said,  “don’t ask us, just let us come.”

Ms Furlong’s friend, referred to as ‘Victim A’ in Mr Blackston’s trial, said in testimony on Wednesday that the women had strongly declined the invitation to sleep at the men’s hotel.

Mr Hinds said that both Irish women later became semi-conscious within a short period at the Scramble Bar where the four had been drinking and that he carried Ms Furlong into a taxi. He said that “morally” he could not leave her in the bar in a semi-conscious state.

At one stage in the morning testimony, after a request by Ms Furlong’s parents, Mr Hinds was asked to stop referring to Ms Furlong as Nicki.

Angela Furlong later told reporters that “She was never called Nicki she was always Nic or Nicola. It was like he was friends with her and it was his pet name,” adding that she thought such familiarity was “disrespectful.” 

Mr Hinds, a professional musician, also said that he was involved in Christian activities and that he was the “music director at a church” in his home town, of Memphis, Tennessee.

Defence questioning of the defendant concluded today and prosecution questioning begins tomorrow.

Nicola Furlong’s mother and sister will also read victim impact statements tomorrow.

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