Monday 18 February 2019

Nicola’s sister – “give accused death penalty”

Andrea Furlong holds a photograph of her sister Nicola with her father Andrew and mother Angela.
Andrea Furlong holds a photograph of her sister Nicola with her father Andrew and mother Angela.
Nicola Furlong

Paul Murphy in Tokyo

The sister of the Irish woman killed in a Tokyo hotel last May today called for the death penalty for the man accused of her murder, 19-year-old American, Richard Hinds.

Two judges sitting in on the case wiped tears from their eyes as the victim impact statements of Nicola’s mum and sister were read out.

In an emotional and angry victim impact statement to Tokyo District Court Nicola Furlong’s 19-year-old sister Andrea said “I have so much anger and hatred towards this man” she said. “I want him to suffer.... He took someone from us and ruined all our lives, so a life for a life.” 

In a separate victim impact statement, Nicola Furlong’s mother Angela said that she “had no wish to take a life for a life.” But she added that “given that the defendant has refused to take responsibility for what he did and has instead tried to blacken our daughter’s name with lies, I feel the punishment should at least begin to reflect the pain he has caused.”

Mr Hinds listened impassively sitting just a couple of metres away from the Furlongs as they spoke.

Earlier he admitted for the first time that he put his two hands around Ms Furlong’s neck moments before she passed out from strangulation. Mr Hinds, who pleads not guilty to murder, said, “At this time, I had both hands on her neck.”

When asked by the prosecution why he had not mentioned this in questioning by his defence lawyer yesterday, Mr Hinds said, “Well, he didn’t ask.”

He then claimed that since Ms Furlong was killed in the early hours of last May 24th, he had always said he had put his two hands around her neck. 

“I maybe wasn’t heard correctly by others, but I have been saying this from the beginning of my investigation nine months ago,” he said.

In testimony yesterday, he described two occasions when he put one hand “lightly” on the 21-year-old student’s neck in his hotel room in the time leading up to her death. Today he continued to maintain that he had only pressed “lightly.”

“Why did she die then?,” asked the prosecutor.

“I have no explanation for it either,” Mr Hinds said.

Asked whether he understood the testimony last week of two pathologists who said that Ms Furlong died from powerful strangulation that last several minutes, he said “If I misjudged my pressure, I humbly accept it, if I misjudged it.”

Mr Hinds claims that he put his hands on Ms Furlong’s neck to calm her down and that she wanted him to do it to give her sexual pleasure.

Asked if he knew how much suffering his statements in court caused the Furlong family he said, “No, they came across the world to court to know what happened.”

Yesterday and today, the seventh day of the trial, Mr Hinds has portrayed Ms Furlong as a sexually aggressive woman who sought to be choked and had shown willingness to go to the hotel with him where she was found dead on May 24th.

Footage from a hotel CCTV camera shows Ms Furlong apparently unconscious being pushed in a wheelchair into Mr Hinds hotel room number 1427, about two and a half hours before she was found dead.

Near the end of today’s session, in response to a question emanating from the Furlong family, but asked by the prosecutor, about why their daughter had to die, Mr Hinds said, “I do not have an answer for the reason she died, but what I would like to say is that I have apologised for the loss of their daughter.”

The court also replayed some of the CCTV footage from a taxi that brought Mr Hinds, his friend James Blackston and Ms Furlong and her friend from a bar to the Keio Plaza hotel where Ms Furlong was killed.

In the taxi, the men are talking crudely about having sex with the women, who are apparently unconscious in the back seat.

Mr Hinds asked if he was denying that his statement “we are gonna f**k them, we’re gonna f**k them, that’s it and then send them on their way,” meant that he planned for the men to have sex with the women. He said, “that is not what I meant when I made the statement or whoever made the statement.”

He said “we took them back to the hotel in general just so they can rest.”

Mr Blackston has already been tried for assaulting Ms Furlong’s Irish friend and will be sentenced tomorrow. Like Mr Hinds, he has argued that he had no intention of having sex and that the woman, in his case Ms Furlong’s friend, initiated sex with him.

In today’s session, when asked by the prosecutor to explain blood stains on both beds in his hotel room that matched Ms Furlong’s DNA, Mr Hinds said that Ms Furlong had vomited blood on one bed and that the other stains “were possibly from her touching the bed.”

When questioned about his testimony that Ms Furlong initiated sex with him after awakening from her unconsciousness, Mr Hinds described himself four times as a “gentleman”.

Asked why he had not taken off his clothes if the events were as he alleged, he said, “I am a gentleman.”  Asked why did he testify that he had not touched Ms Furlong’s breasts or genital area, he replied, “Like I said, I am a gentleman.”

“Does a gentleman put pressure on a person’s neck,” asked the prosecutor. “That doesn’t have anything to do with being a gentleman,” replied Mr Hinds.

The trial finishes tomorrow with closing statements from the defence and the prosecution. Mr Hinds will have the opportunity to make a brief statement also. The verdict is due next Tuesday.

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