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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 April 2007, 04:17 GMT 05:17 UK
'Vivacious' girl with sense of adventure
By Chris Summers
BBC News

Blessed with good looks, a prosperous middle class family and a sparkling personality, Lucie Blackman seemingly had it all.

But she was driven by an adventurous spirit, which took her to Japan and her death.

Lucie as a child
Born in September 1978 in Pembury Hospital, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Went to school in Sevenoaks. Left Walthamstow Hall, an independent school, in 1996
After working at a French bank in the City, she joined British Airways as a stewardess.
In early 2000 she quit her job with BA and travelled to Japan to take up a job as a club hostess
On 1 Jul 2000 Lucie left for a meeting with Joji Obara, who says she became unwell and he asked an acquaintance to take her home.
In Feb 2001 her remains were found in a cave at Miura, near Tokyo

"She was very vivacious, friendly and entertaining," says her father, Tim Blackman.

"She was very socially able and was never ill at ease, whether she was talking to one of her peers, an infant or an 85-year-old aunt. She was never fazed."

It was this ability to mix with people of all ages, creeds and backgrounds which made her such an obvious choice to be an airline stewardess.

Her sister, Sophie said: "The one word that springs to mind when people ask me about Lucie is whirlwind. She was one of those people who was always busy, always having fun going out with her friends and also with her family.

"She was loved by everyone, she was someone who really lit up a room."

Lucie was also a gifted linguist. She spoke French fluently and picked up other languages quite quickly.

Lucie started out doing short-haul flights around Britain and Europe but she quickly impressed her bosses and was promoted to long-haul flights.

Fragile health

But although she was good at the job, physically it began to take its toll.

Lucie's health had been fragile ever since she suffered from a prolonged bout of pleurisy as a teenager.

Mr Blackman recalls: "She had flu, which turned into pneumonia and she was quite poorly for months. She then came down with a form of ME, although she mentally fought it off."

Lucie (right) with her sister Sophie and brother Rupert
She was very vivacious, friendly and entertaining. She was very socially able
Tim Blackman

But she found the BA job, with its long flights, constantly changing timezones and vicious jetlag, quite debilitating.

Early in 2000 the 21-year-old decided to quit BA and go to Japan with her best friend, Louise Phillips.

Lucie hoped to clear credit card debts - she owed about 6,000 - and hoped it might be a springboard for more travelling in Asia.

Another element in the mix was her parents' ongoing and acrimonious divorce.

Tim Blackman and his wife Jane separated in 1995 and have not been on speaking terms since.

Lucie and her younger siblings, Sophie and Rupert, grew up in prosperous but sleepy Sevenoaks in Kent.

'Difficult situation'

When her parents split up - Mr Blackman moved to the Isle of Wight with his new partner - Lucie stayed at home.

Lucie Blackman's funeral
Lucie was described at her funeral as a "glorious girl"

She lived with her mother right up until 2000 - often getting up at 2am to drive to Heathrow airport to report for duty - but felt uncomfortable with the competing loyalties she felt towards her parents.

Mr Blackman believes this was another factor in her decision to travel to Japan.

"It was a very difficult situation for her and I think she just wanted to get away from it," says Mr Blackman.

Like many young people with loving, caring but protective parents, Lucie was economical with the truth about her plans in Japan.

Mr Blackman said: "She told me they were going to do bar work and would be staying in an apartment owned by Louise's aunt. She said they were going to get cheap tickets through their BA connection.

"Louise's sister had worked in Japan and had apparently earned lots of money so Lucie and Louise decided to go there on a 90-day tourist visa and earn some money," remembers her father.

"Later she said the apartment wasn't available but she said they would find accommodation in Tokyo. The cheap tickets fell through too."

Terrible premonition

Shortly before they left her mother had a terrible premonition about her daughter. But Lucie laughed it off and they flew out on 3 May 2000.

It later emerged that Lucie was actually working as a hostess in a club called Casablanca in Tokyo's Roppongi district.

Mr Blackman said: "To me hostessing is playing with fire. However much the girls play it down or try to rise above it there is always a serious under-current of sex.

"If I had known about the hostessing I would have tried to talk her out of it. I would have severely disapproved, which is why I expect she didn't tell me."

Lucie was convinced she could look after herself thousands of miles from home, but she was proved tragically wrong.

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