Page last updated at 09:23 GMT, Tuesday, 24 April 2007 10:23 UK

Mother 'heartbroken' over verdict

Lucie Blackman's mother, Jane Steare
Jane Steare has been haunted by images of what happened

The acquittal of Japanese businessman Joji Obara of the killing of Briton Lucie Blackman, nearly seven years after her family first heard she had gone missing, has left her mother "absolutely heartbroken".

Jane Steare, who lives in Sevenoaks, Kent, said her "worst fears" had come true.

She said she would be consulting the authorities and her legal advisers over the possibility of pursuing an appeal in her "continuing search for justice".

"As for my darling Lucie, I miss you so much. This aching void in my heart feels like it will never go away... your mummy will never give up hope of finding justice and the truth," she said in a statement.

When Mrs Steare first heard how her daughter's body was disposed of, what was already unbearable pain became "a living hell".

She said she feared the worst as soon as her daughter set off for Japan - a fear that was to be proved tragically correct when she was reported missing.

"I already knew I'd never see Lucie again when she left for Japan on 3 May 2000," she said.

She had tried to stop her daughter making the trip to the Far East saying she had "a gut feeling" something bad would happen.

She was beautiful on the inside as well as the outside
Jane Steare
But nothing could prepare her for the horror of how her daughter's body had been dismembered.

"The pain became horribly visual - a living hell," she said.

Thoughts of the 21-year-old woman's rape, abduction and killing still torment Mrs Steare so much, she was unable to be at the Tokyo court to see Mr Obara found not guilty of her daughter's death.

"I do not want to add his face to the images already in my head," she said.

Miss Blackman's body was found dismembered in a cave.

Her head was encased in concrete, with her long, blonde hair shaved off.

The discovery of part of a woman's leg and hand were the first reported finds as the Tokyo Metropolitan Police followed a trail which led them to a seaside cave in a remote and secluded fishing village.

Miss Blackman, a former flight attendant who was working as a hostess in a nightclub in the Roppongi bar district of Tokyo when she vanished, was identified by her dental records.

Lucie Blackman (picture from the family)
Lucie Blackman had been working as a hostess in a nightclub
Her mother still has treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder to help her "block out the horrific images".

Mrs Steare said: "I hate the terms closure and 'moving on'. Real life isn't a soap opera. But we can learn to live with pain and loss."

Her abiding memory of her daughter was of "her laughter, her energy, her humour, her hugs, her love, and her soul".

"She was beautiful on the inside as well as the outside," she said

Hundreds of mourners attended Miss Blackman's funeral in Chislehurst, south east London, in 2001, where she was described by the family as "a glorious girl who could quite literally light up a room with her presence".

Property developer Mr Obara, 54, had denied abducting, raping and killing Miss Blackman.

He first appeared in court in July 2001, with the trial getting under way in November 2003.

Mr Obara was questioned about the death while already in custody suspected of raping eight other women and killing another hostess.

video and audio news
Lucie's parents react to the court verdict

Excerpts: Lucie's mother speaks
20 Apr 06 |  Asia-Pacific
'I feared for Lucie' says mother
08 Oct 02 |  England
Lucie trial told of mother's pain
20 Apr 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Lucie hunt police find remains
09 Feb 01 |  Asia-Pacific

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