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US youth jailed for killing Irish student in Japan
March 19, 2013 , 3 : 26 pm
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Irish man Andrew Furlong, his daughter Andrea and his wife Angela, family members of slain former Dublin City University exchange student Nicola Furlong, leave Tokyo's District Court March 19. 2013. Photo - REUTERS
A Japanese court Tuesday jailed a US youth for at least five years for murdering an Irish student in his Tokyo hotel room, rejecting his defence that the death was the result of consensual rough intercourse. The American musician, who cannot be named because he was a minor under Japanese law at the time, had denied murdering Nicola Furlong, 21, after meeting her at a nightspot in the city last May when he was aged 19.
"The court sentences the defendant to imprisonment with hard labour for no less than five years and no more than 10 years," said presiding judge Masaharu Ashizawa at Tokyo District Court. Ten years is the longest sentence the court could have imposed on a minor for murder. The age of majority is 20 in Japan.
The US citizen admitted having pressed Furlong's neck with his hands during what he said was consensual intercourse, but insisted he did not intend to kill her. He claimed Furlong had asked that he put pressure on her neck. The court was told that Furlong and her friend, also a 21-year-old Irish student, had travelled to Tokyo for a concert from a city where she had been studying north of the capital.
They met two American men before going to a bar together for drinks. Both women lost consciousness and were taken by taxi to a Tokyo hotel where the men were staying. James Blackston, a 23-year-old American dancer, had already been sentenced to three years' imprisonment for sexually assaulting the other Irish woman.
The court found that Furlong recovered consciousness in the US teenager's room and made a loud noise, which led the defendant to kill her. "It can be recognised that the defendant suffocated the victim to death, by strangling her with a towel or a string-like item with the intention of killing her," the judge said.
The court said it took account of the killer's age in passing sentence. But the judge said he was entirely to blame for Furlong's death. "The victim was only spending a night out with her friend... after a concert that they had looked forward to. She bears none of the fault for the consequences of that night," he said.
Furlong's mother Angela, from Wexford, has been in Tokyo with the dead woman's father, sister and friends throughout the trial. She said she felt her daughter's honour had been restored by the court ruling. "She is not a person that (he) tried to make her to be, thankfully. The whole world can see that now. Nicola is a good girl," Angela Furlong said.
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