The long, harrowing journey for the grieving family of Lindsay Hawker finally ended yesterday when the man who raped and strangled the English teacher was sentenced to life in prison.
Tatsuya Ichihashi (32), throttled Miss Hawker after a sustained attack at his Tokyo flat in 2007 but a Japanese court rejected the victim's family's request that he should be hanged, saying there was still a chance the killer could be rehabilitated.
"Perhaps he has a chance to make a new start, or to be corrected," said Judge Masaya Hotta as the victim's father, Bill Hawker, sat in court and shook his head. Mr Hawker later said he was "pleased" with the outcome.
"We have been waiting for this day for a long time," he said, flanked by his wife Julia, and their two daughters Louise and Lisa.
Holding a picture of his dead daughter, he thanked the Japanese and British police for catching her killer.
Ichihashi trapped Miss Hawker (22), inside his flat after badgering her into giving him a private English lesson.
He lured her inside and attacked her, binding her hands and feet with plastic strips.
After killing her, Ichihashi bought compost, sand and chemicals, stripped her body and stuffed her into his bath, leaving a single arm protruding. He dragged the bath out onto his balcony to slowly decompose.
Some speculated that the young botanist intended to grow flowers in the bath to speed up decomposition.
Ichihashi fled after the killing sparked one of the longest manhunts ever in Japan. Later he paid for several operations that changed his appearance before he was spotted trying to board a ferry to Okinawa in November 2009.
Story so far
- March 25, 2007: Miss Hawker gives an English class to Tatsuya Ichihashi in a coffee shop in Tokyo. Lindsay returns to Ichihashi's apartment, telling the taxi to wait. After seven minutes, the driver leaves.
- March 26: Staff at the language school call her father Bill to say she has missed two days of teaching. Police arrive at Ichihashi's apartment, but he bolts. Japanese police find Miss Hawker's body on the balcony.
- November 10, 2009: Ichihashi is arrested by Japanese police at a ferry terminal in Osaka, western Japan.