Furlong family awaits Japan killing trial

Furlong family awaits Japan killing trial
Nicola Furlong

The family of murdered Irish exchange student Nicola Furlong will tomorrow come face-to-face with the man accused of her killing at his trial in Japan.

Musician Richard Hinds, 19, from Memphis, Tennessee in the US, has admitted strangling Nicola Furlong, 21, but denies killing her intentionally.

The Dublin City University undergraduate from Curracloe, Co Wexford, was found unconscious in an upmarket hotel in central Tokyo last May after a night out with a friend attending a concert.

The trial is expected to last more than a week and Ms Furlong’s parents Andrew and Angie and her sister Andrea have prepared for a tortuous three-week stay in the city to await the verdict and any sentencing.

The outcome of the trial is expected to be delivered later this month.

Ms Furlong had been studying and living around 100km north at Takasaki City University of Economics, as part of an exchange programme.

On the night she was strangled, she had travelled along with an Irish friend by train to Tokyo to see US rapper Nicki Minaj in concert.

Afterwards, the pair met Hinds and James Blackston, a 23-year-old professional dancer from Los Angeles, and the four went to a bar together where they had drinks and danced.

In a separate trial, Blackston has denied sexually assaulting Ms Furlong’s unidentified friend – known only as Victim A.

She gave evidence that she cannot remember anything after taking a drink given to her during the evening.

The four were captured on a taxi surveillance camera making their way back to the Keio Plaza Hotel. The recording shows the two women apparently unconscious at the time.

Blackston has been accused of groping Victim A and using explicit sexual language in the back of the taxi.

It is alleged the two men then used wheelchairs at the hotel to transport the girls to their rooms.

Police were called to the hotel when a loud noise was heard from Hinds’ room in the early hours of the morning. Ms Furlong was found unconscious at the scene and died later in hospital.

The verdict in the case of Blackston, who is not accused of any part in Ms Furlong’s killing, is due on March 13.

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