Japanese property magnate, Joji Obara, convicted of Lucie Blackman murder
Japanese businessman, Joji Obara, has been convicted of abducting and mutilating the body of British bar hostess Lucie Blackman in 2000, after the reversal of an earlier ruling acquitting him.
The wealthy property developer was acquitted of Ms Blackman’s murder last year by a lower court. However, a court in Tokyo now found that the serial rapist was guilty of kidnapping and murdering the 21-year-old.
Despite the ruling, the judge said there was insufficient evidence that 56-year-old Obara had murdered Ms Blackman, so the court was unable to convict him.
However, Obara is already serving a life sentence for raping nine other women and murdering one of them, Australian-born Carita Ridgeway.
Judge Hiroshi Kadono described how 56-year-old Obara kidnapped Ms Blackman, dismembered her body with a chainsaw at his apartment and left her remains in a cave on a beach, just 150 metres from his apartment, where she was discovered seven months later by police.
Last year’s acquittal left Ms Blackman’s family in shock and her mother, Jane Steare, declared her daughter had been ‘robbed of justice’.
The bar hostess disappeared from her job at the Casablanca nightclub in Tokyo in July 2000, after agreeing to accompany Obara back to his beachside apartment, 35 miles south of Tokyo.
Despite circumstantial evidence, Obara’s movements after Lucie’s disappearance raised alarm bells. The property magnate bought a chainsaw, camping table and a vinyl mat, as well as cement, in which Lucie’s severed head was found when her remains were discovered.
Obara always denied involvement in Ms Blackman’s murder but was jailed in 2007 for raping nine women and murdering one victim, Carita Ridgway.
Ms Blackmans’s father said of today’s ruling: ‘We view this result with delight. Although the result is not the absolute decision we had hoped for, it is still an obvious recognition of guilt.’