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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 April 2007, 05:46 GMT 06:46 UK
Family left devastated by Lucie's death
By Chris Summers
BBC News

A Japanese businessman has been cleared of raping and killing British bar hostess Lucie Blackman in 2000. All the members of Lucie's family were devastated by her disappearance and death and the acquittal of Joji Obara means there will be no "closure".

Tim Blackman, his son Rupert and daughter Sophie
Tim Blackman, his son Rupert and daughter Sophie

Fear, anxiety and grief affect people in different ways.

Lucie's father, Tim, and her sister Sophie, responded to news of her disappearance by springing into action and catching the first plane out to Japan.

In contrast her mother, Jane, was paralysed with terror when she first heard Lucie had gone missing and has remained a reclusive figure, reluctant to be in the glare of the media spotlight.

The fifth member of the family, Lucie's younger brother Rupert, has struggled to cope with the sheer enormity of her death.

Rupert, who was about to take his GCSEs when his sister vanished, visited Tokyo when Lucie's body was brought home but his father said: "He said 'I can't get my head around it. I can't believe she is dead, I can't even believe I had an older sister'."

Divorce

Mr Blackman said: "I don't feel comfortable having a conversation about Lucie with him, unless he starts it."

Mr Blackman and his wife were in the middle of an acrimonious divorce at the time of Lucie's disappearance - he had moved to the Isle of Wight with his new partner - but the family came together for Lucie's funeral.

Jane Steare
To lose a child and to know her body was desecrated in such an evil way is the greatest and most unrelenting pain I have ever had to endure
Lucie's mother, Jane Steare

Lucie's mother, Jane Steare, made a victim impact statement to the trial in Tokyo in which she described the excoriating pain she felt at the loss of her first-born child.

She said: "To lose a child and to know her body was desecrated in such an evil way is the greatest and most unrelenting pain I have ever had to endure.

"I often awake again in the early hours and begin wondering if this was the time of night she died.

"I wonder if she suffered, 'Did she feel any pain? Did she call out my name?' I will never know."

Close sisters

Mr Blackman said the family had been the full gamut of emotions from anxiety and terror to shock, grief, pain and anger.

He said when he finally came face to face with Obara in November 2003 he found he had run out of emotions.

"I felt little emotion when I saw him. I personally had poured out so much emotion - fear, anguish and sorrow - since that day in 2000 that by the time I saw him I was really not able to find any feelings for him. I didn't even have feelings of anger," he told the BBC News website.

Sophie, who was 19 at the time, was particularly badly affected by the loss of her sister.

Lucie Blackman (left) and her sister Sophie
They'd been very close - they were almost inseparable as sisters
Tim Blackman

"They'd been very close. They were almost inseparable as sisters," said Mr Blackman.

When the Japanese media began reporting rumours Lucie may have joined a cult or been abducted by one, Sophie reacted instinctively.

"She said she was going to find Lucie. If she was in a cult she would put herself in to get her out or tell Lucie not to be so stupid," he recalled.

Sophie spent a great deal of time in Japan during the summer of 2000 desperately trying to get the Japanese authorities to do more to find her.

When Lucie's remains were found in February 2001 she was devastated and the subsequent disclosures about the manner of her sister's death caused significant distress to Sophie.

'Rough ride'

In the intervening years she has needed treatment for the after-effects of the tragedy.

"It's been a really rough ride for them," Mr Blackman said of his children.

Sophie told the BBC: "The one thing I find quite sad are the things she won't do. It's very easy to miss the things we used to do together but the things she'll never have I almost miss the most, things like getting married and having children.

I think she would have made a very good mother - it's a real shame that she'll never have the opportunity to do that
Sophie Blackman

"[Because of] Lucie's love for people and love for children I think she would have made a very good mother. It's a real shame that she'll never have the opportunity to do that."

Joji Obara's acquittal means there will be no sense of "closure", to use a word much loved by psychologists.

But Mr Blackman said: "I'm not sure what the definition of closure is because it's a word which crops up quite a lot and it doesn't have much pertinence to the way I feel.

"There is just nothing which makes this tragedy any better. If a mother loses a child in birth there is no real change 20 years later in the way they feel and I feel the same way."




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Lucie's parents react to the court verdict



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