Furlong murder accused has 'no explanation' for death, as family give victim impact statements

Tuesday 12 March 2013 23.56
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Andrea (L) called for the death penalty while Angela Furlong said a 'heavy cloak of darkness' surrounds her family
Andrea (L) called for the death penalty while Angela Furlong said a 'heavy cloak of darkness' surrounds her family
Nicola Furlong was found dead in a Tokyo hotel last May
Nicola Furlong was found dead in a Tokyo hotel last May
Richard Hinds said he has no explanation for why Nicola Furlong died
Richard Hinds said he has no explanation for why Nicola Furlong died

The man accused of the murder of Irish student Nicola Furlong in Japan has been cross-examined at his trial in Tokyo.

Richard Hinds from Memphis, Tennessee in the US, told the court that he had no explanation as to why Ms Furlong had died.

The 21-year-old was found dead in the Keio Plaza hotel in Tokyo's Shinjuku district on 24 May last year.

Ms Furlong's mother and sister both gave victim impact statements to the court today.

Andrea Furlong, Nicola’s younger sister, said in her statement that she wants the accused to suffer and believes he should get the death penalty.

She said she had "so much anger and hatred" towards the accused.

It broke her heart to see the defence "dishonour" the name of her sister and best friend.

Two civilian judges (jurors) and one of the professional judges wept.

Angela Furlong said her daughter was a beautiful young woman who embraced life with passion.

She was a vibrant girl and loved life, the court was told.

She said she was repulsed to hear the defence speak of her "baby" in the way they had over the past week.

Mrs Furlong said she was there to ensure her daughter’s good name was preserved.

The outcome of the trial will never ease her pain, she said, which surrounds her family like a "heavy cloak of darkness".

She said she still has the last text she received from Nicola the day before the concert.

It read: "Am so excited. Ten weeks and I will be back in Ireland."

Mr Hinds made the admission that he used both hands to press "lightly" on Ms Furlong's neck during questioning from prosecution lawyers.

When asked why he had not said this yesterday or during his initial trial hearing last July, he replied: "Maybe I wasn't heard correctly."

Despite apologising to the Furlong family for the loss of their daughter, Mr Hinds repeated that he did not kill her.

Asked if he had a reason why Nicola died, he replied that he did not.

Earlier, he was shown footage from inside the taxi the night Ms Furlong was killed.

In the footage he is seen turning from his front passenger seat to "fist-bump" his friend, James Blackston, who was allegedly carrying out a sexual assault on Ms Furlong's friend.

Mr Hinds maintained he had not seen the alleged assault and repeated that his conversation concerned repaying Mr Blackston money and not their intention to have sex with the Irish women.

When asked if he understood that all of this was putting pressure on the victim's family, he replied: "No. They came across the world to court to know what happened."

No more witnesses will be called in the trial.

The prosecution and defence will deliver closing arguments tomorrow.