A Japanese serial rapist was convicted of dismembering and abandoning the body of Briton Lucie Blackman eight years ago, but was found not guilty of killing her by a court that sentenced him to life in prison for other sex crimes.
The Tokyo High Court found former property developer Joji Obara guilty yesterday of kidnap and attempted rape, but upheld a lower court ruling acquitting him of killing Blackman, 21, who was working as a hostess in the Roppongi nightlife district.
She went missing in July 2000 after saying she was going for a drive with a man. Her remains, including a severed head encased in concrete, were later found in a seaside cave near a condominium owned by Obara.
Obara’s purchase of a chainsaw and evidence at the cave, including cement, bags and adhesive tape, showed he was guilty of abandoning her body, the court said. But there was not enough evidence to prove he had caused the death of Blackman, a former British Airways flight attendant from Kent in southern England.
“The court dismisses the first ruling,” said judge Hiroshi Kadono, who then handed out a life sentence for crimes including the abduction of Blackman.
“The court recognizes that the defendant is responsible for damaging and abandoning the body,” the judge said.
A lower court last year convicted Obara of the rape of nine other women and the death of one of them, Australian Carita Ridgway.
Though found not guilty of killing Blackman, Obara, 56, was sentenced to life in prison for a series of other horrific sex crimes.
He was found guilty of raping eight women, and of raping, drugging and causing the death of Carita Ridgway, 21, an Australian hostess who died in hospital in 1992.
In Japan, a life sentence is the heaviest punishment for rape resulting in death.