Japan man given life over 2007 murder of Briton

Tatsuya Ichihashi was living in the apartment where Lindsay Ann Hawker`s body was found in 2007.

Updated: Jul 21, 2011, 13:51 PM IST

Chiba: A Japanese man was sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday for raping and killing Briton Lindsay Ann Hawker and burying her naked body in a sand-filled bathtub in a case that horrified Japan and sparked a media frenzy.

Tatsuya Ichihashi, 32, who was living in the apartment where the 22-year-old English teacher`s body was found in 2007, eluded a massive manhunt for nearly three years after fleeing his apartment when police arrived to question him. He even mutilated his face to change his appearance.

Hawker`s parents came from Britain to hear the verdict. Her mother wiped tears from her face and nodded several times as she listened to the verdict.

Ichihashi, in a black shirt and grey pants, with a mop of curly hair, did not move as the verdict was being read out.

After Ichihashi went missing, police conducted a nationwide search and offered up to JPY 10 million (USD 127,000) as a reward for information leading to his arrest.

A visit to a plastic surgeon ultimately led to Ichihashi`s arrest in 2009 after the doctor contacted the police. He was caught at a port in western Japan, where he was waiting for a ferry to the southern island of Okinawa.

A former student of horticulture, Ichihashi published a bestseller this year detailing his life on the run, including sewing his own nose to change his appearance and living on a remote island spending his days fishing. He said the sales proceeds should go to Hawker`s family or charity.

About 950 people lined up for about 60 slots to listen to the verdict inside the courtroom.

Bureau Report