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Mum breaks down as harrowing footage is too much to bear for family and friends

IT'S a heart-wrenching experience that no 18-year-old should ever have to go through.

Andrea Furlong sat quietly holding a poignant, framed photograph of her big sister Nicola in court today as the murder trial got under way.

Sitting in the middle of a packed Tokyo court room, the pain of losing her "best friend" was all too apparent.

Nicola's parents Andrew and Angie, from Curracloe in Wexford, sat behind the prosecution team for what is expected to be a two-week long trial.

Grief was etched on the faces of the Furlong family as they braced themselves to hear harrowing details of the final moments leading up to Dublin City University student Nicola's death. They watched as the court was shown footage of the taxi journey taken by Nicola, her best friend, and two American men on May 24 2012.

Angie became distressed moments into the trial as she watched her beloved daughter unconscious in the taxi. The family heard the harrowing evidence of a hotel manager who failed in his efforts to revive Nicola (21) through CPR.

Before her death, Ms Furlong and another Irish woman had attended a Nicki Minaj concert where they met two men.

James Blackston (23) has been accused of assaulting Ms Furlong's friend, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

The verdict in his case will be delivered tomorrow.

The man accused of murdering the Wexford student, Tennessee musician Richard Hinds (19), took the stand at the start of day one of the trial.

He had "no intent or reason to hurt, harm or kill" Nicola, Hinds told the court.

The heartbroken family are determined to ensure that their fight for justice will result in a satisfying outcome. "We know everyone in Wexford and across the country has been praying for us and I would ask that people keep us in their prayers," Angie said today before the trial.

Family and friends have also travelled to Japan to support the Furlongs.