| 10.6°C Dublin

Accused ordered to stop talking to Nicola's mum

THE man accused of murdering Nicola Furlong says he cries himself to sleep and it "truly saddens my heart" when he sees the Irish student's mother.

For the first time, Richard Hinds today changed his expressionless demeanour as prosecutors asked that he be jailed for between five and 10 years.

The death penalty being sought by the victim's sister Andrea has been ruled out because under Japanese law the 19-year-old US musician is considered a minor.

Separately today, Hinds's friend, James Blackston, who was with him on the night of Nicola's death, was sentenced to three years with labour for sexual assault.

Blackston (23), from the US, is accused of assaulting Nicola's friend, who has remained anonymous, on the night that Nicola was killed and of assaulting another woman on a different date.

Meanwhile the prosecution and defence have closed their arguments and judges have retired to consider their verdict.

Hinds (19) had the opportunity to address the court and staring directly at Nicola's family, said: "Mr and Mrs Furlong, I am so glad that you believe in the same God I do; it really makes my heart happy.

"Mrs Furlong, it truly saddens my heart when I look over and see you crying. Mr Furlong, it pains me when I see you red with frustration.

"I look you dead in your eyes today and tell you that your daughter did not suffer."

He continued to speak directly to the Furlongs even after he was told to address his comments to the judges.

violated

After a second objection by prosecutors, Hinds addressed the judges, saying: "I firmly believe that I did not kill their daughter, that is from the bottom of my heart.

"You are not looking at a professional strangler, murderer or pervert."

Earlier in his closing statement, lead prosecutor Kenji Horikoshi called for a five- to 10-year jail sentence.

Hinds continued to maintain that he did not strangle the 21-year-old Irish student in his Tokyo hotel room, but for the first time in this eight-day trial, he showed emotion.

"There have been many nights when I have cried myself to sleep," he said. "Please do not be deceived that I am oblivious to feelings and that I do not have a heart."

During the trial, which has heard testimony from two pathologists that Ms Furlong died a painful death from strangulation,

Hinds portrayed her as a sexually aggressive woman who had asked to be choked to give her pleasure.

CCTV footage from the Keio Plaza hotel where she was killed in the early hours of last May 24, shows Hinds bringing the Wexford woman to his hotel room slumped in a wheelchair, apparently unconscious.

In his closing statement the prosecutor said the defendant "shows no remorse . . . and has violated Nicola's dignity with his testimony".

Defence lawyer Kenji Hattori said: "It is not possible to convict the defendant because there is not enough evidence."

He also criticised evidence given by Dr Kenichi Yoshida, who did the post-mortem examination on Nicola, saying: "It was prejudiced in favour of the prosecution."

neck

Dr Yoshida said: "She didn't die quickly; it took minutes and she died in great distress."

Hinds says he couldn't have killed Ms Furlong because he only "lightly" pressed on her neck for "less than 30 seconds".

A verdict will be delivered next Tuesday.

hnews@herald.ie


Privacy