Blackman’s parents split on Obara appeal trial

by William Hollingworth

Kyodo

The appeal against the acquittal of Joji Obara on charges of murdering Lucie Blackman is dividing the parents of the slain Tokyo bar hostess.

While her mother, Jane Steare, supports the Tokyo High Court appeal trial by prosecutors that started Tuesday, her ex-husband and Lucie’s father, Tim Blackman, does not believe there is “anything further to be gained” through this legal move.

This is not the first time Lucie Blackman’s parents have clashed so publicly.

Last year, Steare criticized Blackman for accepting $900,000 (about ¥89 million) in condolence money from an associate of Obara. In response, Lucie Blackman’s sister, Sophie, attacked her mother as “venomous” and “destructive” in a magazine article.

In a statement on the Lucie Blackman Trust Web site, Blackman said he had learned the appeal would be “drawn out” and last a minimum of six months.

He added, “Our efforts in getting Lucie’s case investigated delivered justice for many women who Joji Obara had attacked, not least Carita Ridgway, whom he killed. I personally do not feel there is anything further to be gained through the appeal as, after so long, I want to see Sophie and Rupert (Lucie’s sister and brother) able to get on with their lives.”

Steare said in a statement Tuesday, “I fully support the prosecutors’ appeal against the acquittal of Joji Obara for the killing of my daughter Lucie.

“Whilst I was not present in court today, I have been working closely with the prosecution team and I do expect to attend the appeal hearing when necessary.”

In an earlier statement issued before the latest posting on the Web site, Blackman said he and Sophie would not be traveling to Tokyo, adding “frankly after the last seven years, Sophie and I both need to carry on with our lives.”

This prompted Steare to respond, “I want to make it perfectly clear that the statement issued recently by Lucie’s father saying that he needs to ‘get on with his life’ does not represent the views of Lucie’s true family and friends. We will never abandon the pursuit of justice in her name.”

Lucie Blackman’s dismembered body was found in a cave in Miura, Kanagawa Prefecture, in 2001, steps away from convicted serial rapist Obara’s condo.

Last year, Obara, 55, was acquitted on all charges over her slaying. It had been claimed he raped and fatally drugged the former air stewardess at another of his condos in nearby Zushi. He was also cleared of dismembering and burying her body.

The district court said Obara may have been involved in dismembering and dumping her body but figured there was no evidence that directly linked him to the crime.