US man in Japan says assault charges against him are 'lies'
One of the two American men suspected of luring Irish exchange student Nicola Furlong to her death in a Tokyo hotel last year has denied using a rape drug and called the accusations against him “lies”.
James Blackston (23) is on trial for sexually assaulting Ms Furlong’s Irish friend, identified in Tokyo District Court as “victim A”. He denies the charges.
Mr Blackston told the court yesterday that Ms Furlong (21) was drunk when she left a Tokyo bar with himself and Richard Hinds, who has admitted strangling her at the Keio Plaza Hotel.
“My friend was helping her to walk,” he said, adding that although he did not feel responsible for the two women, he was not “going to leave them on the street”. He said he took the victim to his hotel “out of kindness”.
The claims contradict testimony by the Irish woman, who said last month that the Americans approached her and Ms Furlong after a rap concert. She said both women blacked out after downing a drink waiting for the men to return from the toilet.
Surveillance footage shows Mr Blackston groping the victim in the back of a taxi on the way to the hotel. Both men were later filmed carrying the unconscious women through the lobby in wheelchairs.
Mr Blackston insisted yesterday he “wasn’t even thinking of sex” and said he was “offended” when the Irish woman thought he was inviting her to his room.
Closing arguments will be heard next month.
Mr Hinds’s trial for murder begins in March.