Richard Hinds smiled and winked at parents just before sentencing
THE heartbroken mother of murdered Irish student Nicola Furlong has spoken of her anguish that the man who took her daughter's life "will walk free in five years time".
The family of the Wexford student who was strangled in Tokyo after a night out with friends, watched US citizen Richard Hinds (19) "smile and wink" at his father and mother seconds before his sentencing in a Japanese court.
Angela Furlong said she believed Hinds had managed to convince himself that he had not killed Nicola and was "so confident that he thought he was going home today."
In the end, he was jailed for five to ten years - the maximum sentence possible for a minor under Japanese law.
And the Judge in the Tokyo court told how Nicola's murder had been "so vicious in nature" that he wanted to give him a stronger sentence but unfortunately could not do so.
Speaking to the Pat Kenny Show on RTE radio, Angela said the Furlong family had known within three minutes of entering the court room what the sentencing would be.
"I believe it was given out quicker than it took for Nicola to die," she said.
She said the short nature of the sentence was "inevitable".
"The law is the law out here in Japan and they're very firm in how they distribute the sentencing. That's the best we could have wished for, the best they could get," she said.
However she admitted that the family would have liked a stronger one,
saying: "Nicola's life is worth more than five to ten years."
The devastated mother expressed her belief that she would not have found it any easier if Hinds had shown any remorse throughout the hearing.
"When he looked me in the eye and told me Nicola did not suffer, that was the biggest lie he ever said and he said that to my face," she said.
Angela admitted that she has not yet grieved for her daughter. She believes that when she does get back from Japan and gets into her own front door she will "hit a brick wall" and her grieving will start.
"I need to go out to her grave and let her know what's happened here in Japan," she said, adding that she intends never to return to that country again.
Meanwhile, when she is stronger, she intends to revisit the issue of the spiking of the drinks of Nicola and her unnamed friend who was also sexually assaulted that night.
She says she will contact the lawyers and try and get further blood tests done to try to determine the substance that was put into the tequila that night and that has not yet shown up in laboratory analysis.