Below is the full impact statement read to the lay judges by Nicola Furlong’s Mother:
My Name is Angela Furlong, I am Nicola’s Mother
I remember so well the day our Nicola came into the world – a beautiful baby girl.
The joy of holding her and loving her.
As she grew up into a beautiful child I wondered what life had in store for
her, what dreams would be fulfilled for Nicola.
As she blossomed into a beautiful young woman she embraced life with a passion.
During her teenage years she never gave us any reason to be concerned, always displaying a happy, loving and giving nature.
She surrounded herself with happy, honest, genuine, fun-loving friends and she had a particularly special relationship with her younger sister’s Andrea and Hannah.
In fact Nicola and Andrea were more like close friends than sisters. Nicola was a vibrant girl and loved life, always such a positive girl; she planned ahead and looked forward to her future.
Always kind, generous, beautiful a real lady, just so perfect. She was full of life and lived every day with a smile on her face.
Nicola flourished at school and made us all so proud of all her achievements. When Nicola told us that she was planning to go to Japan on a student exchange programme, we supported and encouraged her.
While planning for the trip, I also learned a lot about Japan, which helped to allay my own personal worries about Nicola going to a foreign country and spending a year away from home.
I learned that Japan is one of the safest countries in the world and Tokyo one of the least likely places to be mugged or assaulted. While away, Nicola kept in constant contact with me, while missing home desperately she expressed her own bravery at having taken up the challenge of living and studying in Japan.
On May 22nd, 2012, Nicola’s last contact with me, she texted to say “all ready for the concert mam. am so excited 10 weeks & I will be back in Ireland”.
I still have that text on my phone.
The nightmare of all nightmares was about to unfold. While every mother of a young person harbours the thought that they might meet with an accident, one never thinks of them meeting with the ultimate crime of murder.
The loss of a child in any circumstance is utterly tragic, but to lose my baby and learning of her final hour on this earth, so many thoughts run through my head.
Did she know she was going to die?
Did she plead for mercy?
Did she scream out my name, was she looking for her mammy and daddy to help her? These are the thoughts I will always carry with me.
Learning of Nicola’s death on that Thursday morning, and having to tell Hannah these words will be the hardest I will ever say to you: “Nicola is dead.”
Not only did her life end that day but mine also. So many lives have been affected by this horrendous tragedy.
The period between then and now has been a blanket of grief. Although nobody can see it I walk around surrounded by a heavy cloak of darkness. I will never be the strong independent woman I was, as I now need anti-depressants and sleeping pills to get through 2- hours.
I have never relied on such medication in my life.
Having always worked full-time, I now struggle to my job on a part-time basis, resulting in financial difficulty.
I am receiving regular homicide counselling. The invasion my baby endured in the last moments of her short life has left me feeling repulsed by men.
I make my daily visit to Nicola’s grave side often twice a day as this is all
I feel I can do for her now “that she is sleeping with the angels.”
I am repulsed to hear the defence speak of my baby who is such an honest, Catholic young woman, in the way they have been over the past week.
We are here to ensure that Nicola’s good name is preserved. The outcome of this trial will never ease all our pain.
I have no wish to further spread the circle of damage that began on May 24th last year, and certainly no wish to take a life for a life. But given that the defendant has refused to take responsibility for what he did and has instead tried to blacken our daughter’s name with lies, I feel the punishment should at least begin to reflect the pain he has caused us and all the people who loved Nicola.
And that pain that he continues to cause.
I thank you judges for giving me the opportunity to express my feelings and those of my family.