Father of Nicola Furlong dreads imminent release of her killer

The father of murdered 21-year-old Wexford student Nicola Furlong said he is anxious and upset at the imminent release of his daughter’s killer in Japan
Father of Nicola Furlong dreads imminent release of her killer

Olivia Kelleher

The father of murdered 21-year-old Wexford student Nicola Furlong said he is anxious and upset at the imminent release of his daughter’s killer in Japan.

In an interview on the Opinion Line on Cork's 96FM, Andrew Furlong said violent death of his daughter in 2012 in a hotel room in Tokyo had changed the lives of their family forever.

"Is it (the pain) any different today than 10 years ago? Not a bit of difference. It is as raw today as it was 10 years ago when a knock came to my door at 7.50am in the morning.

"I happened to see two people with high vis jackets standing outside, and I said to myself  'what is this?' I opened the door and invited them in thinking it was an unpaid fine or something. That is how much I wasn't expecting what was coming.

"The garda said: 'Are you the father of Nicola Rose Furlong?' And I said: 'Oh Christ don't tell me she has been in an accident', and he said: 'No it is worse than that she is dead.'

"That was the start of it. I screamed shouted and said 'it couldn't be there must be some mistake.' I was hoping somebody else was dead, and it wasn't Nicola. The pain was only starting. We only knew she had died. We didn't know why she was dead."

Mr Furlong said it took them a few days to establish exactly what had happened to their beloved daughter.

"We got a phone call from the Irish Embassy (in Japan) to say she had been murdered. We didn't get her back until the following Thursday, so there was a week already gone. We buried her on a Sunday and the Japanese wanted me out there on the Monday. They wanted a description of her life and what she was like and all this.

"We went out on the (following) Thursday. I had found out my passport was out of date. It was on the table the day the two guards came. Tony (one of the guards) took it and sent it off to Dublin to be done straight away. "

Andrew admits that it has been hard to put one foot in front of the other since his daughter was murdered.

The pain today is the same as it was then.

"The pain today is the same as it was then. I could nearly cry on the phone. This is every day. If my story telling people helps any other child out there I would talk 24/7. Every single day (I have these moments). I have been put on depression tablets, sleeping tablets and all sorts of stuff. I went off them, and I am back on them 10 years on."

Nicola was strangled by musician Richard Hinds, who is now 29, in May 2012, while she was studying at a university in Tokyo as part of her degree with Dublin City University. The body of the exchange student was found in a room at the Krio Plaza Hotel in Tokyo close to midnight on May 23rd, 2012.

Hinds, who is a US national, was found guilty by a jury of murdering Nicola who hailed from Curracloe in Co Wexford.

He received a lenient sentence of not less than five years and no more than ten years because he was 19 when he committed the murder. He has never apologised or shown any remorse for his actions.

Mr Furlong said that Hinds didn't look in any way contrite during the pre-trial or trial hearings.

"I started writing and writing as over there we could talk notes. The judge and the jurors were so fed up of Ayer [sic] man Hinds attitude that they turned around and said, and I have it written in black and white, that he was to be tried as an adult and not a minor.

"When we went back for the trial he was to be tried as a minor. He was asked three or four times if he wanted to change his story. The judge even laughed at him a few times. No remorse."

Andrew said his daughter had been brought to the hotel virtually unconscious and had been wheeled in in a wheelchair. He said Nicola "woke and fought" and was subsequently murdered.

Nicola had gone on a night out to a Nicki Minaj concert with a friend when they met two American men. She and her friend stopped Hinds and his 23-year-old friend, James Blackston, to ask for directions. The men asked them to accompany them to a bar.

Nicola's friend later told the 2013 murder trial that she lost consciousness after drinking a shot given to her by Blackston.

The men brought the two unconscious women by taxi to a hotel and put them in to wheelchairs to bring them to their rooms. Hinds stranged Nicola in his room. Blackston was also jailed for sexually assaulting Nicola's friend and for a separate and similar incident a few weeks earlier.

Hinds is due to be released from prison on November 19th. His parole was delayed in 2017 after authorities deemed that he had failed to convince the authorities that he was remorseful for the murder.

At the conclusion of the murder trial the presiding judge, Masayuki Ashizawa described the crime as "atrocious and vicious" and said that the fact that Nicole was "strangled with force for several minutes" showed murderous intent.

Meanwhile, Mr Furlong has appealed to parents from all over Ireland who have lost children to visit Nicola's memorial in Ardcavan, Co Wexford.

The memorial for Nicola Furlong in Ardcavan, Co Wexford.

"The memorial is not just for Nicola. It was opened in 2018. It was one of the most photographed things in Wexford over the last few years.

"I have often gone over there in the middle of the night just for solace. I even wrote a song about her. There is times I was lucky (to get through). There is nothing I can do about him (Hinds) getting out. It is their laws I can't change. It is their country. He is going to get out. "

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