England

Japan bathtub burial accused admits Lindsay Hawker killing

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Media captionLindsay Ann Hawker's family arrived at court where Ichihashi admitted raping Miss Hawker and causing her death

A Japanese man has admitted raping and killing a British teacher whose body was found in a sand-filled bathtub.

Tatsuya Ichihashi, 32, is accused of murdering Lindsay Ann Hawker, 22, from Brandon near Coventry.

Her body was found at the defendant's home east of Tokyo in March 2007.

At the opening of his trial, Ichihashi admitted raping Miss Hawker and causing her death but said he did not intend to kill her.

The defence said Ichihashi had tried to revive his English teacher after accidentally suffocating her in an attempt to stop her from crying out for help.

Death penalty

Ichihashi told the court: "I did not intend to kill her, but I am responsible for her death."

"I am very sorry for what I did."

The crime potentially carries the death penalty but prosecutors have yet to enter a sentencing demand.

Miss Hawker taught Ichihashi English at a private language school in the city of Chiba.

Image caption Lindsay Hawker's body was found buried in sand in a bathtub in a flat near Tokyo

She agreed to give him a private lesson and after the lesson Ichihashi persuaded Miss Hawker to go back to his apartment.

He went on the run after police found her body, at one point fleeing past officers as they questioned his neighbours.

Ichihashi evaded police for more than two years despite a nationwide manhunt, in which a reward of 10 million yen was offered for tips leading to his arrest.

In a book published after his eventual arrest in 2009, Ichihashi described his life on the run including how he performed plastic surgery on himself, giving himself a nose job in an attempt to obscure his identity.

His attempts to change his appearance eventually led to his arrest after the staff at a clinic where he had surgery on his nose became suspicious and reported him to police.

He was arrested at a ferry terminal in the city of Osaka in November 2009.

Miss Hawker's parents, Bill and Julia, are attending the trial at Chiba District Court and under the country's legal system they are entitled to question the defendant but at the discretion of the court.

In a statement read by Mr Hawker when the family left England for the trial, he said: "We're hoping to get justice for our daughter.

"That has always been our only aim."

A verdict is expected before the end of the month.

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