Killer of British teacher Lindsay Hawker loses appeal in Japan

TATSUYA Ichihashi, the killer of British teacher Lindsay Hawker, has lost an appeal against his life sentence for her murder at Tokyo High Court in Japan.

Ichihashi, 33, was jailed last year for raping and strangling Miss Hawker, 22, at his flat in March 2007.

His lawyers claimed at his appeal hearing that he did not intend to kill the English language teacher, but Tokyo High Court today upheld his sentence.

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Leeds University graduate Miss Hawker, from Brandon, near Coventry, travelled to Japan in October 2006 to work as a teacher with the Nova language school.

She was last seen alive after giving her killer an English lesson in a coffee shop on March 25, 2007.

Ichihashi went on the run after Japanese police discovered the young teacher’s battered and bound body buried naked in a sand-filled bathtub on the balcony of his flat in Ichikawa City, east of Tokyo.

A massive manhunt was launched, with police offering a 10 million yen (£77,700) reward and putting up wanted posters around the country.

He was finally arrested at a ferry terminal in the city of Osaka in western Japan in November 2009 as he waited for a ferry to Okinawa.

Ichihashi published a book in which he confessed to the killing and described how he underwent often grisly cosmetic surgery in an attempt to disguise his features and evade capture.

He claimed he wrote the work, called Until The Arrest, as a “gesture of contrition for the crime I committed” and said he wanted to donate all proceeds to Miss Hawker’s family.

Ichihashi told his murder trial last July that he enticed Miss Hawker into his apartment, raped her, and then strangled her because he feared neighbours would hear her screams and call the police.

He admitted causing her death but said he did not intend to murder her and could not remember strangling her.

Miss Hawker’s relatives did not attend the appeal hearing.

Her father Bill previously called for Ichihashi to be given the “heaviest punishment” possible under Japanese law - theoretically the death penalty - but said his family had achieved justice after the killer was convicted.