Furlong trial told women were likely drugged
The trial in Tokyo of a US musician for the murder last year of Irish student Nicola Furlong heard on its opening day yesterday that the prosecution believed that she and her friend were drugged by the men they met outside a concert.
Footage taken inside a lift in the hotel where the young woman died shows the women in wheelchairs, with Ms Furlong’s head lolling to one side.
Richard Hinds’s defence, however, told Tokyo district court there was “no proof” of murder and a “strong possibility that the victim died from ingesting alcohol or drugs”.
The prosecution said Mr Hinds (19) used a bath towel to strangle Ms Furlong (21) shortly after 3am on May 24th last year.
Ms Furlong’s blood tested positive for the sleeping drugs Xanax and Lidocaine, the prosecutors told the court. They believe the woman, from Curracloe, Co Wexford, and her friend were drugged after meeting Mr Hinds and another American, James Blackston, outside a rap concert.
Ms Furlong’s parents, Angela and Andrew, sat behind the prosecution team looking directly across at the accused during yesterday’s session. Their remaining daughter, Andrea, and several Irish friends sat in the public gallery.
Angela Furlong wiped away tears as the defence read out their opening arguments, alleging that the Irish student had demanded sex in the defendant’s room in the Keio Plaza Hotel and had grown aggressive when he refused.
The court heard that the defendant admitted “lightly pressing” Ms Furlong’s neck after what his defence team called “rough sex”.
“I do not believe I was the cause of her death because the pressure was too light,” Mr Hinds told the court. “I had no intent, motive or reason to hurt, harm or kill her.”
Lead prosecutor Kenji Horikoshi said that “the defendant shows absolutely no remorse”, and demanded “harsh” punishment.
Mr Hinds could face life imprisonment if convicted. Statements from employees at the Scramble Cafe Bar said Ms Furlong fell unconscious about an hour after arriving with the two Americans.
The court was shown CCTV footage of the two bundling the unconscious women into a taxi on the way to their hotel, then discussing having sex with them. Prosecutors say the second Irish woman was assaulted by Mr Blackston in the back of the taxi while Ms Furlong lay prone on the floor.
The case is expected to last two weeks.