Earlier today (April 11), the Tokyo High Court upheld the life sentence of Tatsuya Ichihashi, 32, a Japanese national who raped and killed Lindsay Ann Hawker, 22, a young British teacher who taught Ichihashi English in 2007, and later buried her battered body in a sand-filled bathtub.
When Ms. Hawker disappeared, leads eventually led police to Ichihashi's apartment in Chiba prefecture, near Tokyo, to find her naked body bound at the wrists and ankles in a bathtub filled with sand on Ichihashi's apartment balcony.
An autopsy showed she died of suffocation; prosecutors said Ichihashi strangled her after the rape.
COMMENT: The High Court rejected Ichihashi's appeal, who claimed his life sentence for the murder of Ms. Hawker a crime that shocked both Japan and Britain, was too harsh. Ichihashi admitted raping Hawker, but said he killed the 22-year-old accidentally. His appeal had sought a reduction in the life sentence.
Prosecutors argued that the killing by Ichihashi, who spent more than two-and-a-half years as a fugitive and even underwent plastic surgery to evade apprehension, was premeditated and the life term should be affirmed.
As Judge Yoshinobu Iida handed down his decision, he said the defendant had not displayed sincere regret and remorse and that the suffering experienced by Ms. Hawker was beyond imagination, and that her family continues to grieve over her death.
The Japanese police are to be commended for their dogged efforts to bring Ichihashi to justice. They eventually found the defendant in Osaka in November 2009, which resulted in his arrest, trial and conviction. Sadly, though, Ms. Hawker's parents will be tormented by the loss of their daughter for the rest of their days.
Although the crime rate in Japan is among one of the lowest in developed nations, the reality is that there are no "safe" countries on Earth. That being said, it is very imprudent and risky for foreigners and residents alike to work as tutors in the homes of those they teach. It is far better to use a safe venue, such as local educational institutions, libraries or cultural centers to tutor others. Trigically, Ms. Hawker's physical presence in Ichihashi's apartment was fraught with risk.