Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Family criticise killer's sentence

Andrew Furlong, his daughter Andrea and wife Angela speak to reporters outside Tokyo District Court (AP)
Andrew Furlong, his daughter Andrea and wife Angela speak to reporters outside Tokyo District Court (AP)

The family of an Irish student murdered in Japan have said their daughter's life was worth more than the five to 10 years in jail her killer will serve.

US musician Richard Hinds, 19, from Memphis, Tennessee, was found guilty of killing 21-year-old Nicola Furlong in a hotel bedroom in Tokyo on May 24 last year.

A court ruled that he strangled the exchange student with a towel or tank top in the Keio Plaza hotel in the city's Shinjuku district.

Ms Furlong's mother, Angela, said: "Nicola's life was worth more than that."

She added: "It's good that they (judges) cleared her name. Nicola has done nothing wrong. It was all him and his lies that brought us out here. We still don't know the truth of what happened in that room but we know Nicola did nothing wrong, we knew that coming out anyway."

Hinds was on trial as a minor. The death penalty was not an option for judges and possible sentence was limited to up to 10 years.

Ms Furlong's father, Andrew, said the family had been made aware that possible sentences were limited. "When we found out he was on trial as a minor we knew it was not going to be a hanging," he said.

Hinds and another American were accused of taking Ms Furlong, 21, and one of her friends to the hotel after they had passed out in a bar. The Tokyo District Court ruled that Hinds strangled Ms Furlong to keep her quiet when she regained consciousness in his hotel room.

A second American man, James Blackston, a 23-year-old dancer from Los Angeles, was seen with Hinds taking Ms Furlong and her unnamed friend unconscious into the hotel on CCTV footage which was played to the court. He was convicted last week of sexually assaulting the second woman and sentenced to three years in jail.

Ms Furlong's sister, Andrea, said she felt let down by the Japanese criminal justice system, saying: "I'm absolutely disgusted and so angry and so hurt. We had so much faith in the Japanese doing justice for us and I don't feel we got it."

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