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Lucie’s dad: It’s time to move on

PUBLISHED: 15:32 02 April 2008 | UPDATED: 11:34 12 August 2010

THE father of a bar hostess fears an appeal by prosecutors in Japan against the acquittal of the man accused of her murder can gain nothing.

THE father of a bar hostess fears an appeal by prosecutors in Japan against the acquittal of the man accused of her murder can gain nothing.

Businessman Joji Obara was cleared last April of any involvement in the death of pretty Lucie Blackman, 21, from Sevenoaks.

Obara, 55, who was jailed for life for raping nine women, one of whom died, is also appealing against those verdicts.

The appeal hearing last Tuesday was adjourned until May after just 30 minutes.

Miss Blackman, from Chislehurst, was found dead in a cave near Tokyo in 2001, and the Lucie Blackman Trust was later formed to advise on safety issues abroad.

Speaking this week, Mr Blackman said: "Our efforts in getting Lucie's case investigated delivered justice for many women who Joji Obara had attacked, not least Caritta Ridgeway, whom he also killed.

"I personally do not feel there is anything further to be gained through the appeal as after so long I want to see Sophie and Rupert able to get on with their lives."

During his trial, lawyers claimed Obara drugged and raped Miss Blackman before she died, and then chopped up her body and encased her head in concrete.

But the judge said there was no proof the millionaire property developer alone was responsible for her death.

Mr Blackman, who lives on the Isle of Wight, said: "The information we have uncovered about the appeal process confirms Sophie's and my worst fears over the length of time of the appeal. The whole process is a drawn-out affair, initially with the judge only sitting for one day a month. The appeal proceedings are expected to take an absolute minimum of six months."

This week, the trust launched a hotline to help gather information about the prime suspect in the murder of British teacher Lindsey Hawker.

Matt Searle, a communications expert, has created a phone link that will record any public tip-offs in Tokyo, and then deliver them via email to the trust's headquarters in a few seconds.

When Lucie Blackman vanished in Tokyo eight years ago it was a hotline the family set up that led police to her body, and the main suspect in her murder.

Relatives of Ms Hawker visited Tokyo this week, on the anniversary of her death, to urge detectives to step up the hunt for her killer.

Prime suspect Tatsuya Ichihashi, 29, is thought to have bound the 22-year-old teacher in tape and buried her naked in a bath of sand.

The Hawker family have been in contact with the Trust since her death last year.

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