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Last Updated: Monday, 23 April 2007, 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK
Lucie family visits remains cave
Tim and Sophie Blackman at the cave in Japan
Tim and Sophie Blackman visited the cave where Lucie was found
The father and sister of British hostess Lucie Blackman have visited the cave in Japan where her dismembered remains were found six years ago.

They are awaiting the verdict on Joji Obara, 54, who denies abducting, raping and killing the 21-year-old.

Miss Blackman's body was found in a remote fishing village near Tokyo.

Her father Tim, has rejected claims by his ex-wife that the 450,000 he accepted from a friend of the accused was "blood money".

"I find it absolutely, entirely inappropriate. This is a really important time in Lucie's case and there could have been any time in the last eight or nine months when she could raise these issues," he said.

"But to do it on the eve of Lucie's hearing just is inexcusable."

Lucie's sister, Sophie, said she hoped "justice would be done" when the Tokyo court delivers its verdict.

Hopefully, the courts will give a harsh sentence
Sophie Blackman

Mr Obara's trial began on 27 November, 2003, but his first appearance in court goes back to July 2001.

Mr Blackman said the money he accepted from a friend of the accused was "condolence money" and would be split between the Lucie Blackman Trust and supporting the family in the future.

Speaking during the visit to the cave, Tim Blackman, 53, said the long process had been "emotionally damaging".

He added: "The length of the process and so many years of waiting and wondering has been tough on the Blackman family."

Sophie Blackman added: "We're all very anxious about what the outcome will be.

"Hopefully, the courts will give a harsh sentence."

The Blackmans are attending the last day of the trial.

Lucie Blackman
Lucie Blackman had been working as a hostess in a nightclub

The judges' decision at Tokyo District Court is expected on Monday or Tuesday.

Mr Blackman, from the Isle of Wight, has repeatedly travelled to Japan in an effort to bring his daughter's killer to justice.

Before leaving for Japan he said he did not know what to expect.

"It's a complicated situation and a complicated trial. I'm apprehensive about it because there is an awful lot of circumstantial evidence and he has denied all of the allegations," he said.

Miss Blackman's mother, Jane Steare, 52, has decided not to attend the hearing.

Mr Blackman and daughter Sophie, 26, visited the cave in Miura, a remote and secluded fishing village outside Tokyo, late on Sunday.

'Innocent journey'

Miss Blackman, a former flight attendant from Sevenoaks in Kent, was working as a hostess in a nightclub in the Roppongi bar district of Tokyo when she vanished in July 2000.

The prosecution says Mr Obara raped Miss Blackman.

Following her death, it is alleged he chopped up her body and encased her head in concrete at his luxury apartment.

In February 2001, decomposed remains were discovered in a cave close to Mr Obara's four-storey home in Miura.

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

Speaking on Monday, Mr Blackman said: "I think Lucie's journey was very innocent and she perhaps came from a point where she didn't get the right, or much advice, before coming and knew Japan was a very safe place and her defences were down.

"I think probably Lucie's experience will have educated a lot of people."


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Lucie Blackman's family in Japan during the trial



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