Your daughter did not suffer, Hinds tells Furlongs

Prosecution says accused deserves death penalty for murder of Irish student

Prosecutors in Tokyo have demanded a 10-year jail term for Richard Hinds, the American musician accused of murdering Irish student Nicola Furlong.

Summing up the eight-day trial, lead prosecutor Kenji Horikoshi said Mr Hinds (19) had shown no remorse and had "violated the dignity" of Ms Furlong by trying to portray her as "promiscuous".

"He deserves the death penalty," Mr Hirikoshi told the Tokyo District Court this morning, but said because the defendant is a minor under Japanese criminal law he could only be given a custodial sentence.

"There is no reason for a lesser sentence than this," he said, demanding 10 years.

Mr Hinds has denied murdering the Co Wexford woman at the Keio Plaza Hotel on May 24th last year but admitted putting "light pressure" on her neck. His defence has argued throughout the trial that he was trying to help an intoxicated Ms Furlong on the night of her death and that she died in his hotel room after demanding "rough sex".

The defendant gave a lengthy address to the court after the prosecution's closing arguments, pleading with the panel of nine judges and the Furlong family to believe in his innocence.

Looking directly at the dead woman's parents, Andrew and Angela Furlong, who sat behind the prosecutor's desk, he said: "I look dead in your eyes today and tell you that your daughter did not suffer."

Mr Hinds said he had helped Ms Furlong by refusing to leave her semi-conscious in a Tokyo bar and said he "prayed" for the Furlongs, "not as my enemy, not as my accusers, but the same as my family and friends”.

"I do not want to break your heart any more than it is. Mrs Furlong, it truly saddens my heart to see you crying."

At one point, Nicola's mother looked away in apparent disgust.

When warned by the court to stop addressing the Furlongs, he turned toward the panel of judges and said: "I feel very sorry for their loss. I firmly believe I did not kill their daughter. That is from the bottom of my heart."

In their closing arguments, Mr Hinds's lawyers said the prosecution did not have enough evidence to prove intent to murder and insisted their client was innocent. "The only facts we know are that the suspect and Nicola were in the room alone. She was alive when she entered the room and stopped breathing shortly later.”

He added: "These were two individuals enjoying sex. The suspect had no motive or reason to kill (Ms Furlong)."

Mr Hinds's case has been damaged by the testimony of a veteran forensic expert who said Ms Furlong was strangled over several minutes and that the presence of alcohol and small quantities of a prescription drug in her blood were "irrelevant".

Dr Kenichi Yoshida said the 21-year-old's death was likely to have been "slow and painful".

But the defence today continued to insist the "high level" of alcohol combined with Xanax, a drug prescribed to Ms Furlong to relieve anxiety, had played a part in her death. "It is a well known fact that people can die from high alcohol intake."

In his address to the court, MrHinds insisted he had tried to save Ms Furlong after she fell unconscious by massaging her heart and calling for help.

"I made every effort to bring your daughter back," he told the Furlongs. He then told the judges: "You are not looking at a professional strangler, or murderer or a pervert. But I do feel deep remorse for their family."

The trial ends today. The verdict is expected on March 19th.