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Furlong family: 'Nicola's life was worth more than that'

Richard Hinds was found guilty of murder and sentenced to between five and 10 years in prison this morning.

Image: RTÉ Screengrab

THE FAMILY OF murdered Irish student Nicola Furlong has expressed its disappointment over the sentencing of Richard Hinds in Japan this morning.

The 19-year-old American musician was found guilty of murdering the Wexford native in Tokyo on 24 May last year and will face up to 10 years detention in a Japanese prison. The maximum sentence of 10 years with labour was handed down by the judge, who noted he was bound by the judicial system in treating the accused as a minor.

Angela Furlong, the victim’s mother, told RTÉ reporter Robert Shortt that they were “not really” satisfied with the verdict.

“Nicola’s life was worth more than that,” she said. “It is good that they cleared her name. That Nicola had done nothing wrong. That it was all him and his lies that brought us here.

“We still don’t know the truth, what happened in that room but we know that Nicola did nothing wrong.”

During his ruling, the chief judge said the musician showed “no remorse” and “tainted the honour of the victim” through his defence. He also described the killing as a “vicious” attack, adding that Hinds strangled his victim to keep her quiet after she regained consciousness.

Her father, Andrew, said he “hopes everyone who didn’t know [Nicola] will now know she wasn’t a bit like they were trying to make out”.

“We know what type of little girl Nicola is…our very, very special little girl,” added Angela. “She’s not what that person tried to make her out to be. Thankfully, the whole world will see that Nicola is a good girl.”

Hinds will serve a minimum of five years with labour at a Japanese prison. His term will depend on behaviour while serving.

Andrew described the result “as the best were were going to get”.

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“I’ll take it, I never want to his his name mentioned again. Whatever happens to him from now on, I’ve no interest in him whatsoever.”

Nicola’s younger sister Andrea was more forceful in her disgust.

“I am so angry, so hurt,” she told reporters outside the Tokyo courthouse. “We had so much faith in the Japanese doing justice for us and I don’t feel we got it. So I’m disgusted.”

Nicola, a third year business studies student, died on 24 May at the Keio Plaza hotel. A post-mortem showed she had been suffocated. During the trial, Hinds admitted to placing both his hands on her neck for a prolonged period of time. The court concluded that she had been strangled with either a towel or tank top, both of which had traces of her DNA.

Another man was sentenced last week for a sexual assault on Nicola’s friend, whose identity is being protected. James Blackston, a 23-year-old dancer, was jailed for three years.

Nicola Furlong murder trial: Richard Hinds found guilty

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