10 years on | 

Father of murdered Nicola Furlong says he ‘fears for all daughters’ as killer due to be freed

The 21-year old DCU student was killed by American Richard Hinds who strangled her to death at a hotel in Tokyo

Nicola Furlong

Amy Molloy and Philip RyanIndependent.ie

The father of murdered Wexford woman Nicola Furlong has said the 10-year anniversary of her death was made more difficult with the knowledge that her killer is due to be released later this year.

Andrew Furlong said not a day goes by where he doesn’t feel pain since his daughter was killed in 2012.

His comments came as Taoiseach Micheál Martin called on Japanese authorities to offer a full consultation to Nicola’s family before her ­killer’s expected release.

Mr Furlong said he has not received any contact from authorities in Japan. Nor does he expect to.

The 21-year old DCU student, who was studying in Japan, was killed by American Richard Hinds who strangled her to death at a hotel in Tokyo.

Mr Furlong told the Irish Independent he visited DCU earlier this week to see a memorial tree that was planted in his daughter’s ­honour nine years ago.

He said that while he is grateful Hinds served 10 years in jail, he believes he should never be freed.

“There are people at home being let out after no time at all for similar crimes, so there is no point in the Taoiseach talking about other countries if it’s happening in his own country,” Mr Furlong said.

Hinds, who was 19 at the time, has shown no remorse for the murder.

He was tried as a minor and sentenced to five to 10 years in prison. He is expected to be released in November and deported back to the US.

Another man, James Blackston, a 23-year-old dancer, was jailed for a sexual assault on Nicola’s friend. Blackston has since been released.

I’ve been living a nightmare ever since, and it’s the same for my ex-wife Angie and daughter Andrea

“I’m glad they kept him in for 10 years, maybe they’ll keep him in for another couple as he wasn’t a very good ­prisoner,” said Mr Furlong.

“I’ve been living a nightmare ever since, and it’s the same for my ex-wife Angie and daughter Andrea.

“He’s going to get out and you’d be worried for other ­people’s daughters.”

Nicola, an international business student, was studying at Takasaki City University of Economics for the third year of her degree. After a Nicki Minaj concert, the two Irish women socialised with the Americans at a bar and took a taxi to the Keio Plaza Hotel, where Nicola and her friend were staying.

The murder trial heard Nicola had a date-rape drug in her system at the time of her death.

Speaking on the second day of his official visit to Japan, Mr Martin said justice is never served when someone is ­murdered.

“The families of the victim of such a foul deed never get justice in life because of the fact that a loved one has been murdered,” the Taoiseach said.

“My own sense is that the authorities more generally, including in Ireland, have to take the victims and the families more into account when it comes to release of prisoners, when it comes to commuting and sentences and when it comes to parole,” he added.

Mr Martin said he has met families in similar situations to Ms Furlong’s parents and said grief is a “life sentence for them”.

“Much more at times than the actual person who did the deed,” he added.

He said he did not want to interfere in the Japanese judicial system but said the “fullest consultation should take place with the family”.

Mr Furlong agreed with the Taoiseach that his family did receive a life sentence.

Every night he lights candles in his daughter’s bedroom and he regularly visits a memorial garden in Wexford constructed in Nicola’s honour.

The garden was built to offer a place of peace and solace for those grieving the loss of young people. It was opened by Mr Furlong in 2018.

Cuan Aingeal, or ‘Angel Harbour’, is located opposite the Riverbank House Hotel. It was a project of local women Bernadette O’Leary and Lorraine Smyth.

The garden had its roots in a vigil held in the aftermath of Nicola’s death. The women, following requests for a yearly vigil, decided instead that a garden would be a welcome addition to the town for those grieving the loss of loved ones.

“It was started because of Nicola, but it was for any young person who has died in tragic circumstances in ­Wexford,” Mr Furlong said.

“It’s one of the most pictured sculptures in Wexford from what we’re hearing. I clean the angel every week.

“There’s never a no-pain day, put it that way,” he added.

“It’s the way it is. The anniversary was the same as every other, but different and harder as we know he’s getting out.

“Murder is the worst way you can go, but there are families dying of illness, sickness and accidents. We’re burying our kids too young.”

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