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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 January 2007, 11:30 GMT
Lucie sentence expected in April
Lucie Blackman
Lucie Blackman's body was found in a cave outside Tokyo in 2001
Sentencing of a Japanese businessman accused of abducting, raping and killing bar hostess Lucie Blackman is expected to take place in April.

The trial of Joji Obara, who denies the charges, has taken four years.

Ms Blackman, 21, from Sevenoaks, Kent, was working in Tokyo when she vanished. Her body was found in a remote fishing village seven months later in 2001.

Her businessman father Tim, from the Isle of Wight said the sentencing was due on 24 April.

Multiple offender

"They don't have a verdict in Japan, it's all just sentencing," said Mr Blackman.

"If they decide that he is not guilty or the case hasn't been proved, his sentence may be that he is let off.

"Or if they decide that he is a multiple offender, then his sentence will be life imprisonment."

Tim Blackman
Mr Blackman has accepted cash from a friend of Mr Obara

Mr Obara, 54, is also accused of killing Australian Carita Ridgway, who died after allegedly being drugged and raped by him in 1992, and of raping six other women.

Mr Blackman, his ex-wife Jane Steare, 51, and Lucie's brother and sister Sophie, 25 and Rupert, 22, are expected to fly to Tokyo to attend the hearing.

Ms Blackman, a former flight attendant, was working in a nightclub in the Roppongi district of Tokyo when she vanished in July 2000.

Her dismembered body was found in a cave in Miura, outside the city, in February 2001.

Obara's four-storey apartment block, where he is alleged to have cut up Ms Blackman's body and encased her head in concrete, is about 100 yards from the cave where her body was found.

Mr Blackman, 52, has told the trial judges that Mr Obara should be given the maximum penalty of life imprisonment if found guilty.

Miss Blackman's family also intend to visit the cave where her body was found when they visit Japan in an attempt to find closure.

Mr Blackman has accepted a 100 million yen (453,797) payment from a friend of Mr Obara.

He has admitted his ex-wife and children did not agree with the decision, believing it to be "blood money".

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