The man convicted of murdering Irish exchange student Nicola Furlong in a Tokyo hotel room has returned to his home in the United States.
Richard Hinds was released on November 19th after serving 10 years in prison, according to The Irish Times. He was found guilty in 2013 of strangling the Co Wexford woman (21) the previous year.
Hinds was transferred to Japanese immigration officials and deported back to his family in Memphis, Tennessee, on a commercial flight.
Ms Furlong’s family from Curracloe, who called the original verdict “a travesty”, said they are “devastated” at Hinds’s return to civilian life.
Hinds, a travelling musician then aged 19, admitted he strangled Ms Furlong in room 1427 of the Keio Plaza Hotel in Tokyo, claiming that she wordlessly indicated she wanted rough sex. His sentence of “not less than five and no more than 10 years,” with labour was the maximum allowed in Japan because he was a minor.
He served the full term in Fuchu Prison, in Tokyo’s western suburbs, after reportedly showing no remorse for his crime. During his time there, Hinds was classed as a “category-three prisoner”, meaning prison authorities believed he had only a “moderate expectation” of rehabilitation back into society.
James Blackston, a dancer and choreographer who was convicted of sexually assaulting Ms Furlong’s friend during the taxi ride to the Keio Plaza, was freed in 2015 after serving three years. He has since returned to his life in Los Angeles and reportedly recently married.
Hinds gave discredited testimony in which he said that he and Blackston had been approached outside a train station by the two Irish women who wanted to “party”.
Earlier this month Nicola's father, Andrew Furlong, said the violent death of his daughter had changed the lives of their family forever.
Speaking to a local radio station, he said the "pain is as raw today as it was 10 years ago when a knock came to my door at 7.50am in the morning."
Mr Furlong admitted it had 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. 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."
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.
Mr Furlong appealed to parents from all over Ireland who have lost children to visit Nicola's memorial 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 getting out. It is their laws I can't change. It is their country. He is going to get out."