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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April, 2003, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
Man admits 'callous' Lucie fraud
Lucie Blackman vanished in the summer of 2000
A man has admitted tricking the family of murdered former air hostess Lucie Blackman out of more than 15,000.

Michael Hills, 59, preyed on Lucie's parents and convinced her father Tim he could provide information which would trace her after she disappeared in Japan in July 2000.

Mr Blackman spent thousands of pounds looking for his daughter after the 21-year-old former British Airways hostess vanished in Tokyo.

Her remains were eventually found in a cave near the coast not far from Tokyo in February 2002.

A wealthy property developer, Joji Obara, is due to go on trial for her murder in the next few weeks.

I just wonder why he chose to infiltrate my life with completely false promises and lies
Tim Blackman

Detective Constable Brendan Cox, of Essex Police, said Hills had contacted the Blackman family via the British Embassy in Tokyo.

He arranged to meet Mr Blackman in Belgium, where he claimed to have "contacts in the underworld" in Japan that might be able to help find Lucie.

Hills later raised their hopes by promising to obtain a sample of Lucie's hair to prove she was still alive.

He even went so far as to tell the family she would be released at a particular place on a particular day.

'Disgust and abomination'

Tim Blackman said he was relieved that a trial would not be necessary but added that he hoped Hills would be punished "as severely as possible" for a crime he called "despicable".

"The overwhelming feeling is of disgust and abomination that he wasn't able to turn around after a few days and say that he couldn't do anything to help," said Mr Blackman.

"I just wonder why he chose to infiltrate my life with completely false promises and lies - it is just despicable."

Hills, from Waterloo, central London, also admitted claiming 5,000 from the father of a man who was kidnapped in Colombia.

The circumstances surrounding the obtaining of money in these cases is particularly gruesome
Det Con Brendan Cox

Brian Winder, from Great Baddow, Essex, paid over money in March 2000 after his son Paul went missing while trekking from Panama to Colombia.

Mr Winder, 29, was freed after nine months in captivity.

Judge Rodger Hayward Smith QC said: "This is a particularly upsetting sort of case. I have read the file and the chances of him seeing anything other than a custodial sentence are remote."

He faces jail after pleading guilty to two counts of obtaining property by deception when he appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court on Wednesday.

Police arrested Hills after Brian Winder contacted detectives to say he had been conned by him.

'Callous'

On that occasion Hills had said he had contacts in the Colombian underworld which could help trace Paul and his friend Tom Hart Dyke.

Det Con Cox said Hills behaviour was unbelievably "callous".

He said: "The circumstances surrounding the obtaining of money in these cases is particularly gruesome.

"There were promises made, especially to the Blackman family, and as a result Tim Blackman and another relative flew to Japan expecting the release of Lucie."

Sentencing was adjourned until 30 May.




SEE ALSO:
Man charged over Lucie fraud
23 Jan 03  |  England
'I feared for Lucie' says mother
08 Oct 02  |  England
Businessman denies Blackman killing
04 Jul 01  |  Asia-Pacific


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