independent

Sunday 22 September 2019

Nicola's dad on his journey to Japan

ANDREW FURLONG RETURNS FROM JAPAN

MARIA PEPPER

A 19-YEAR-OLD American musician has been charged with the murder of Curracloe student Nicola Furlong who was found dead in a Tokyo hotel room almost a month ago.

The accused man, Richard Hinds, who has been in custody since the night of Nicola's death on May 24, was formally charged by Japanese police last Friday.

'We got the call on Friday that they had charged him with murder,' said Nicola's father Andrew.

'The Irish Consulate contacted us. They were informed by the Irish Embassy in Japan,' said Andrew who is being kept up to date on developments in Japan.

Mr. Furlong, who spent five days in Japan following his daughter's funeral, said he is optimistic that justice will be done.

'They're happy with the way things are going.

'We can't talk about what was said in relation to the investigation. We don't want to prejudice the case.

'We're told the Japanese police have a very high conviction rate with cases that they bring to court,' he said.

The family has been advised that it could be six months before the trial comes to court.

Andrew is planning to attend the trial along with Nicola's mother Angie and her sister Andrea.

'Nothing will bring Nicola back but seeing justice done is definitely important. I wouldn't like to see this happening to another family,' he said.

Andrew gave a family impact statement to police during his trip to Tokyo which he described as a very difficult journey.

'Every day was worse than the first. There was no good day,' he said.

However, the ordeal was eased by the respect and kindness the Japanese police showed him and his brother-in-law Denis Corrigan.

'They were delighted we went over. They had a face to put to the name.

'By the time we were leaving, they were shaking our hands and giving us hugs,' he said.

Andrew's visit to his daughter's apartment on the campus in Tagasaki City University of Economics about 100km north of Tokyo, was 'very hard'.

He got a glimpse of Nicola's life in Japan and met the family who befriended her and other foreign students on the campus.

'This family were very successful in business. They look out for students and bring them away for weekends.

'They had been kind to Nicola and I wanted to meet them to say thanks,' said Andrew.

On the day that he arrived in Tagasaki, two German girls who knew Nicola were returning from a weekend with the family.

It was a poignant moment seeing the two girls as his daughter should have been with them.

Andrew said the Japanese family were shocked by Nicola's death.

'They couldn't believe what happened,' he said.

Andrew and Denis were taken on a tour of the university where Nicola had been studying since the previous October.

'You touched every desk as you went along,' said Andrew.

Back home in Curracloe, the grief is still very raw.

Nicola's family are missing her 'every minute of every day'.

The local community is continuing to support them in their bereavement. 'People are still coming. The community has been brilliant,' said Andrew.

'We didn't have a wake for three days, it was for ten days. We had people here all that time.

'We were still lucky to get her home so quickly, as much as we did not want to be collecting her from the airport in those circumstances, eight weeks early.

'You wish to God it was different,' he said. 'But we're not the first and we won't be the last.'

The Curracloe community has set up a fund to help cover the family's expenses in travelling to Japan for the murder trial.

Donations can be made to the Nicola Furlong Memorial Account at Bank of Ireland, Wexford, account number 97382577, sort code 90-6718.

Any money that is left over will be used to establish a Nicola Furlong scholarship.

'The plan is to sponsor a student to go to DCU in her name – to keep her name alive and hopefully some girl will benefit from it in the future,' said her uncle Denis Corrigan.

Nicola's Month's Mind Mass will be held in Curracloe church on Sunday next, June 24, at 9.30 a.m.

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