Emotional testimony from friend of Furlong
The best friend of Irish exchange student Nicola Furlong has given emotional testimony at the trial of Ms Furlong’s alleged murderer, Richard Hinds.
The Irish woman, who was not named, said she had come to Japan to “defend” Ms Furlong. “She’s not here and can’t speak for herself,” she told the Tokyo District Court yesterday. “I have to come and get justice for what happened.”
Speaking via a video link, the witness said she had been friends with Ms Furlong since school and they were studying together at a university outside Tokyo at the time.
Recalling their trip to the city for a concert on May 23rd, she contradicted defence testimony that they had approached Mr Hinds and his friend, James Blackston, and invited them to go drinking. “The men said we could stay at their hotel. We strongly said ‘no’. We have boyfriends and we didn’t want to stay with them.”
Asked why they nevertheless accepted an offer by the men to show them a bar in the nightclub area of Shibuya, she said: “They were so friendly it didn’t feel dangerous at all. We were going to a public place. We had no intention of hanging around with these two men.”
The defence has tried to paint a narrative of heavy drinking during the fateful night, implying that this was a factor in the death of Ms Furlong, who was found unresponsive at the Keio Plaza Hotel at about 3.25am on May 24th last year.
The witness said she blacked out after a second tequila shot at the Scramble Café and Bar in Shibuya, but insisted it was not in character. “I’ve never experienced unconsciousness when drinking, and I’ve never seen Nicola lose consciousness.”
Mr Hinds (19), who denies murder, stared at the floor for most of the testimony. He looked up once to smile and acknowledge his family, who were in court for the first time.
“I feel so angry,” the witness added, “that he took her away from me and her family and he hasn’t taken any responsibility for the life that he took.”
Repeatedly breaking down, she grew most distressed when asked by the court to describe Ms Furlong. “She was the most kind, gentle and generous person I’ve ever met.
“She loved her family and would do anything for anyone. She would always put everyone before herself . . .”
The trial continues.