Tatsuya Ichihashi is a killer from Japan who would be convicted in the murder of Lindsay Hawker
According to court documents Lindsay Hawker was living in Japan working as a teacher when she met Tatsuya Ichihashi at a local cafe. The two would head back to Tatsuya apartment and Lindsay Hawker asked the cab driver to wait however when she did not return after several minutes the cab driver left
The body of Lindsay Hawker would be found in a bath covered in compost and left on the apartment’s balcony and it was evident the young woman had been badly beaten and tortured. It would take two years for the police to track down Tatsuya Ichihashi
Tatsuya Ichihashi would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to life in prison
Tatsuya Ichihashi Videos
Tatsuya Ichihashi Case
The family of murdered British teacher Lindsay Hawker said justice had been done after a court in Japan gave her killer a life sentence.
Lindsay, 22, was found strangled to death in a bathtub filled with sand on the balcony of Tatsuya Ichihashi’s apartment in Ichikawa, a suburban town east of Tokyo, in late March 2007.
Tatsuya Ichihashi, 32, had admitted raping and killing her but denied intending to kill her. The Chiba district court ruled, however, that the former horticultural student had intended to murder the victim when he put pressure on her neck.
“He raped her to satisfy his sexual desire, then tried to cover up the rape by killing her,” the presiding judge, Masaya Hotta, told a packed courtroom. “He then attempted to conceal the murder by abandoning her body. The crime was inexcusable and savage.
“[Tatsuya Ichihashi] has repeated irrational, unnatural statements that are contradicted by the evidence. We do not believe that he has reflected [on his crime] from the bottom of his heart.”
The victim’s father, Bill Hawker, had called on the court to show “no mercy” and give Ichihashi the death penalty. Prosecutors had demanded life in prison.
In explaining why the court had not considered the death sentence, Hotta said: “[Ichihashi] has no criminal record and is not a criminal by nature. He is still young. Perhaps he has a chance to make a new start or to be corrected.”
After the verdict, Bill Hawker told reporters: “We have waited four and half years to get justice for Lindsay, and we have achieved that today. We are very pleased.”
Flanked by his wife, Julia, and their two daughters, Louise and Lisa, Hawker thanked his family, the British and Japanese police, and the members of the public who reported the sighting that led to Ichihashi’s arrest in Osaka.
“I would also like to thank the Japanese people,” Bill Hawker said. “We would not have got this far without everyone’s help.” Clutching a photograph of his daughter, he fought back tears as he said: “Lindsay loved Japan and you have not let her down. Thank you.”
Tatsuya Ichihashi was arrested in November 2009 after spending more than two and a half years on the run. He stayed at locations across Japan, used false names and took manual work to pay for several rounds of plastic surgery to his face.
Reports said the defence was considering appealing against the verdict, claiming that emotional testimony from the Hawker family had unduly influenced the three lay judges and three professional judges who advised Hotta on his ruling.
Under Japanese law Ichihashi will have to serve a minimum of 10 years before being eligible for parole.
Earlier, Tatsuya Ichihashi had bowed before the Hawkers, who were sitting yards away with the prosecutors, as he entered the courtroom flanked by security guards, cuffed and with a rope around his waist. As in previous hearings the family did not look at him.
Dressed in a black shirt and faded grey jeans, his unkempt hair flopping over his eyes, he showed no visible reaction to the verdict. Lindsay’s mother, Julia, wiped away tears and turned to look at her daughters in the public gallery.
Japanese police launched a nationwide manhunt after Lindsay’s body was found on the balcony of Ichihashi’s apartment on 26 March 2007. He admitted raping her but said he choked her accidentally while trying to stop her from crying out for help. A postmortem found Lindsay had died from sustained pressure to her throat.
She died soon after entering his apartment, the ruling said, adding that there was no evidence for Ichihashi’s claims that he had attempted to resuscitate her and called an ambulance.
“Shortly after he entered his apartment the defendant administered strong blows to the victim, especially around her right eye,” the ruling said. “He also assaulted other parts of her body and used tape to bind her to stop her resisting when he raped her.”
Lindsay, a biology graduate from Brandon, near Coventry, had arrived in Japan in October 2006 to teach English for a language school chain. She agreed to give Ichihashi a private English lesson in a cafe near her home on 24 March 2007. The court heard that he persuaded her to go to his apartment by taxi after the lesson, claiming he had forgotten his wallet.
Two days later she was found beaten and strangled, her hands and legs bound with plastic gardening cord.
At the first hearing in his trial earlier this month, a tearful Tatsuya Ichihashi told the court: “Yes I raped her. Yes I agree that Lindsay died because of my actions. But I did not mean to kill her. Only Lindsay and I know what really happened that day but she can no longer speak for herself because of me. It is my responsibility to tell the truth throughout this trial.”
Ichihashi fled in his socks from police when they arrived at his apartment to question him about her disappearance. Despite a reward of 10m yen (£78,000) for information leading to his arrest and 8,000 reported sightings he evaded capture for two years and seven months. He was arrested in Osaka while waiting to board a ferry to Okinawa. A passenger had contacted port officials after recognising Ichihashi despite his disguise of a hat, sunglasses and surgical mask.
This year Ichihashi published a book, Until the Arrest, about his time as a fugitive. He described it as “a gesture of contrition”, adding that he wanted royalties to go to the Hawker family or a charity. The family has refused all offers of money.
He does not discuss his crime in the book but recounts his daily quest to avoid detection. He travelled between Aomori in Japan’s north to Okinawa in the far south, and removed a mole from his face to alter his appearance, before paying for plastic surgery with cash earned during 13 months working on an Osaka construction site.
The case has been reported widely in Japan and Britain. On Thursday about 950 people lined up for 60 seats in the court’s public gallery.