Crime spree nets laborer 17 years

A 38-year-old construction worker was sentenced April 14 to 17 years in prison at hard labor for committing a number of crimes, including taking a 2-year-old girl hostage and wounding her after a 1995 Tokyo robbery.

In handing down the sentence, presiding Judge Ritsuro Uemura of the Tokyo District Court said the crimes were mean, atrocious and prompted by egocentric motives. According to the court, on Nov. 30, 1995, Seiichi Yatagawa, armed with a fake sword, robbed a post office in Ota Ward, Tokyo, of 1 million yen.

He then burst into a nearby home, took the toddler hostage and holed up there for about 32 hours, the court said. During the siege, he wounded the girl with a kitchen knife. The injuries required 10 days of treatment. On Dec. 1, he fled the scene.

In May of that year, Yatagawa crept into the home of an unemployed man in Ishioka, Ibaraki Prefecture, seriously wounding him with a shard of glass and robbing him of 330,000 yen. The defendant then set fire to the house in an attempt to cover up his crimes, the court said.