Former girlfriend says man accused of murdering Nicola Furlong 'wouldn't hurt a fly'Friday 08 March 2013 23.50
A former girlfriend of the man accused of murdering Irish woman Nicola Furlong has given evidence at his trial today.
Richard Hinds, 19, from Memphis, Tennessee in the US, is accused of killing Ms Furlong, a 21-year-old Co Wexford student, in May of last year.
Alayna Rodgers told the court that Mr Hinds "wouldn't hurt a fly".
Ms Rodgers was the last witness called before Mr Hinds takes the stand on Monday.
She was his girlfriend for an 11-month period three years ago.
She is a professional singer and performed with the same Japanese band as Mr Hinds.
Ms Rodgers described Mr Hinds as a "sweet spirit".
When a lawyer for the prosecution quoted what he said inside the taxi on the night Ms Furlong was killed, she said she had never seen him act in this kind of way before.
The lawyer said: "So, you only know one side of him."
The trial also heard inconclusive evidence from an expert witness about the possible effects of the drug Xanax found in Ms Furlong's bloodstream.
Dr Masaki Hiraiwa, a cancer specialist, was called by the defence.
He testified about the impact of the drugs found in Ms Furlong's body.
Xanax found in Ms Furlong's bloodstream contains the active ingredient Alprazolam.
Dr Hiraiwa told the court this is prescribed in Japan under different product names than the Xanax which Ms Furlong took.
He said Alprazolam affects the central nervous system and probably reduces the pain of a patient.
However, he said this depended on the mental state of the patient at the time.
Its effects are increased when combined with alcohol, which is not advised, he said.
He believed the concentration found in Ms Furlong’s bloodstream indicated that she may have taken the drug half a day before she died.
He estimated the drug would take maximum effect after two hours, but said that depended on the patient.
Ms Furlong, from Curracloe, had been living and studying 100km north of the capital, at Takasaki City University of Economics, as part of an exchange programme from Dublin City University.