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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: March 25, 2007
Date of arrest: November 10, 2009
Date of birth: 1979
Victim profile: Lindsay Ann Hawker, 22
Method of murder: Suffocation
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on July 21, 2011
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Lindsay Hawker's killer Tatsuya Ichihashi jailed for life

BBC News

July 21, 2011

A Japanese man has been sentenced to life in jail for the rape and murder of a British teacher found dead in a sand-filled bathtub in 2007.

Tatsuya Ichihashi, 32, admitted killing Lindsay Hawker, 22, from Brandon, near Coventry, at his home close to Tokyo, but had denied her murder.

He also admitted raping the English teacher, but said he tried to revive her after accidentally suffocating her.

Miss Hawker's parents said they felt they had got justice.

Her father, Bill, told journalists: "We've waited four-and-a-half years to get justice for Lindsay. We have achieved that today."

"Lindsay loved Japan, and you have not let her down," he added, referring to Japanese authorities.

Self-inflicted 'surgery'

Mr Hawker, his wife Julia, and the victim's sisters, Lisa and Louise, flew into Tokyo on Wednesday, to see the judge at Chiba District Court pass sentence on Ichihashi.

Under Japanese law he could have been given the death penalty and previously Mr Hawker asked the sentencing judge to apply the maximum punishment available.

Judge Masaya Hotta said Ichihashi should not receive the death penalty because he had no previous criminal record and as he was aged 32, there was still a slight chance he could be rehabilitated.

Miss Hawker was last seen alive after giving her killer an English lesson in a coffee shop, on 25 March 2007.

Ichihashi, who went on the run, published a book in which he confessed to the killing and described how he had cosmetic surgery to change his appearance - including cutting his own lip and removing moles from his face.

His attempts to change his appearance eventually led to his arrest after staff at a clinic where he had surgery on his nose became suspicious and reported him to police.

Miss Hawker had travelled to Japan in October 2006, to teach English with the Nova language school.


The Leeds University graduate was found dead at Ichihashi's apartment in Ichikawa City, east of Tokyo, less than six months later.

Ichihashi disappeared after Japanese police discovered the teacher's battered-and-bound body, buried naked in the bathtub on the balcony of his flat.

He was arrested at a ferry terminal in the city of Osaka, in western Japan in November 2009.

On 4 July, he told his trial he enticed Miss Hawker into his apartment, raped her and then strangled her because he feared neighbours would hear her screams and call the police.

He claimed he could not remember strangling her.

Sean Moore, who has lived in Brandon for 18 years, told the BBC he knows the Hawker family "by sight".

"It was just a terrible shock when it happened and I think we've all been right behind the family to see that justice is... done for them," he said.

George Fisher, former head of Miss Hawker's old school, King Henry VIII in Coventry, said he was very pleased for the family that "at last they've got some sort of justice."

"Whether it will help them to get closure on Lindsay's death, well I can only hope so," Mr Fisher said.


Japanese murderer jailed for Lindsay Hawker death

By Roland Buerk -

July 21. 2011

This was a day Tatsuya Ichihashi had gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid.

For more than two and a half years he was on the run, and in that time he cut his own face with scissors and a knife and went through several rounds of plastic surgery to try to change his appearance and avoid arrest.

But justice has caught up with Japan's most wanted man.

Through every minute of his trial, British couple Bill and Julia Hawker sat just a few yards from the man accused of raping and murdering their daughter, Lindsay.

Every word of the case, including the detail of Miss Hawker's last hours and death, was relayed to them by an interpreter.

In court, after the judge delivered the guilty verdict and sentenced Ichihashi to life in prison, the Hawkers looked at each other and nodded.

Barefoot escape

It was a thirst for adventure that brought their daughter to Japan.

Aged 22 and one of three sisters, she had grown up in Brandon near Coventry before graduating from Leeds University.

She got a job teaching English in Chiba, on the edge of Tokyo.

It was in March 2007, in front of a railway station, that she first encountered 28-year-old Ichihashi, the son of wealthy doctors, who had studied horticulture at Chiba University.

He struck up a conversation, and ran after Miss Hawker as she cycled away to the flat she shared with two other teachers.

At some point Ichihashi persuaded her to give him an English lesson and they met a few days later in a coffee shop.

When the session finished he said he had no money, and asked her to go back to his flat to get some.

In court, Ichihashi testified that he raped her as soon as they stepped through the door.

With Miss Hawker missing the alarm was raised and it did not take long for the police to call at Ichihashi's flat. He was there when they arrived but managed to run away barefoot.

When officers went inside they found Miss Hawker's body - battered, bruised, bound and buried in a bathtub full of soil and sand on a balcony.

By then Ichihashi had disappeared, and over the following years the case seemed to go cold.

His face was familiar to people across the country, from posters in railway stations and other public places. But Ichihashi evaded capture for so long by changing it.

In a book he later published, called Until the Arrest, he described cutting his lip to make it thinner, and removing distinctive moles from his face with a knife.

He travelled widely, from Aomori in northern Japan to Oha, a tiny subtropical island in the south, where he lived in a concrete bunker from World War II and ate wild fruit and fish, even snakes.

He used earnings from working on a building site in Osaka to pay for plastic surgery, but a visit to a clinic for an operation was to prove his undoing when staff became suspicious about their patient and handed the police a photograph of his new appearance.

In November 2009 it was released to the Japanese media and widely publicised.

Less than a week later he was recognised by a member of the public in Osaka as he waited to get on a ferry to Okinawa. He was arrested.

'Deep bow'

In court Ichihashi sat before the judges with his head bowed and unmoving. He was thin, his hair long and ragged.

At the start of each day's proceedings, and each time he was brought in after a break, he performed a deep bow to the Hawker family, a gesture of apology.

But Mr and Mrs Hawker hid their faces so as not to see it.

During his testimony, interrupted by sobs, Ichihashi admitted raping their daughter.

Shaking, he said he was responsible for her death - he strangled her to stop her crying out - but did not intend to kill her, a defence which was rejected by the judges and jurors.

The parents had called for their daughter's killer to be given the maximum punishment for his crimes.

Although Japan has death by hanging for murder, it is usually reserved for serial killers so the prosecution instead sought a life sentence.

Since their daughter's death Mr and Mrs Hawker have travelled to Japan many times, appearing on television and handing out leaflets in train stations.

They told the court they spent their savings and pension funds to make sure their daughter's killer was caught.

All they wanted, they said, was justice for Lindsay.


Timeline: Lindsay Hawker's murder

July 21, 2011

British teacher Lindsay Hawker was killed in Tokyo, Japan, in March 2007.

Her body was found buried in a bath of sand on the balcony of an apartment belonging to Tatsuya Ichihashi.

Ichihashi admitted raping and strangling Miss Hawker, who had travelled to Japan from her home near Coventry, but said he did not intend to kill her.

Here is a timeline of events surrounding the 22-year-old's death.

October 2006

Lindsay Hawker leaves her home in Brandon, near Coventry, and heads for Tokyo to teach English with the Nova language school in Koiwa.

March 2007

The 22-year-old gives an English lesson to Tatsuya Ichihashi, aged 28 at the time, at a coffee shop in Tokyo. At 1000 local time on 25 March, Miss Hawker returns to Ichihashi's apartment and informs the taxi driver to wait for her while she briefly goes inside. The driver leaves after seven minutes.

Miss Hawker is reported missing the next day. Her employer calls her father, Bill Hawker, and police are sent to Ichihashi's apartment where they find the suspect escaping on foot.

They discover the Leeds University graduate's body in a bath full of sand on the balcony of the fourth-floor apartment in Ichikawa, east of the capital.

Mr Hawker and his daughter's boyfriend, Ryan Garside, travel to Tokyo to formally identify her body. Mr Hawker declares he "will not rest" until her killer is caught.

April 2007

CCTV footage showing Miss Hawker and Ichihashi just hours before her death is broadcast on Japanese television.

Hundreds of mourners, including Japanese Ambassador Yoshiji Nogami, gather to pay their last respects at a funeral service for Miss Hawker at Coventry Cathedral.

May 2007

Margaret Beckett, then Foreign Secretary, travels to Japan and appeals to the Japanese media to devote more coverage to the murder.

Ichihashi's father tells Miss Hawker's family via police that he hopes his son will "atone for his crime". Mr Hawker calls the message a "hollow gesture".

June 2007

Warwickshire Police fly to Tokyo to help the family liaise with the Japanese police team.

Miss Hawker's parents, Bill and Julia, make a renewed appeal on Japanese TV for help in finding their daughter's killer.

August 2007

The family launch an e-mail campaign, circulating a letter titled Don't Forget Lindsay Hawker. They appeal for the readers' help and ask them to forward it to as many people as possible.

September 2007

Mr Hawker hands out leaflets featuring Ichihashi's face at London Heathrow Airport to mark the six-month anniversary of her death.

March 2008

To mark the one-year anniversary of her death, Miss Hawker's family fly to Japan to appeal for new leads.

March 2009

Miss Hawker's family return to Tokyo on the second anniversary of her death. They unveil life-size talking cut-outs of Mr Ichihashi to raise the profile of the investigation.

November 2009

It emerges that Ichihashi may have undergone plastic surgery to change his appearance. Police release pictures of how he might look now. The suspect, now 30, is thought to have had cheek implants and lip-thinning. Miss Hawker's family appeal to police to tell them what has happened.

On 10 November Ichihashi is arrested by Japanese police at a ferry terminal in Osaka, the Foreign Office confirms. He is held in police custody in Osaka.

December 2009

Ichihashi is charged with abandoning Miss Hawker's corpse.

Later that month he is charged with rape and murder.

September 2010

Ichihashi apologises to Miss Hawker's family in a letter published in some newspapers.

January 2011

He publishes a book confessing to the killing and describing how he spent two-and-a-half years on the run and how he underwent plastic surgery.

July 2011

Miss Hawker's parents arrive in Japan, ahead of Ichihashi's trial at a court in Chiba.

At his trial, Ichihashi admits raping and straggling Miss Hawker but says he did not intend to kill her.

Giving evidence, Bill Hawker asks for the heaviest sentence available for Ichihashi under Japanese law.

Ichihashi is sentenced to life in prison.


Japan bathtub burial accused admits Lindsay Hawker killing

July 4, 2011

A Japanese man has admitted raping and killing a British teacher whose body was found in a sand-filled bathtub.

Tatsuya Ichihashi, 32, is accused of murdering Lindsay Ann Hawker, 22, from Brandon near Coventry.

Her body was found at the defendant's home east of Tokyo in March 2007.

At the opening of his trial, Ichihashi admitted raping Miss Hawker and causing her death but said he did not intend to kill her.

The defence said Ichihashi had tried to revive his English teacher after accidentally suffocating her in an attempt to stop her from crying out for help.

Death penalty

Ichihashi told the court: "I did not intend to kill her, but I am responsible for her death."

"I am very sorry for what I did."

The crime potentially carries the death penalty but prosecutors have yet to enter a sentencing demand.

Miss Hawker taught Ichihashi English at a private language school in the city of Chiba.

She agreed to give him a private lesson and after the lesson Ichihashi persuaded Miss Hawker to go back to his apartment.

He went on the run after police found her body, at one point fleeing past officers as they questioned his neighbours.

Ichihashi evaded police for more than two years despite a nationwide manhunt, in which a reward of 10 million yen was offered for tips leading to his arrest.

In a book published after his eventual arrest in 2009, Ichihashi described his life on the run including how he performed plastic surgery on himself, giving himself a nose job in an attempt to obscure his identity.

His attempts to change his appearance eventually led to his arrest after the staff at a clinic where he had surgery on his nose became suspicious and reported him to police.

He was arrested at a ferry terminal in the city of Osaka in November 2009.

Miss Hawker's parents, Bill and Julia, are attending the trial at Chiba District Court and under the country's legal system they are entitled to question the defendant but at the discretion of the court.

In a statement read by Mr Hawker when the family left England for the trial, he said: "We're hoping to get justice for our daughter.

"That has always been our only aim."


Lindsay Ann Hawker (30 December 1984 – 24 March 2007) was a 22-year-old British teacher who was killed in Japan in early 2007. The man seen fleeing the apartment where she was killed, Tatsuya Ichihashi, was wanted by police for abandonment of a body.

On 10 November 2009, it was reported by Japanese news media as well as BBC News that Ichihashi had been apprehended by Japanese police. On 5 July 2011, Ichihashi confessed to killing her, stating that he smothered her to prevent her from screaming while raping her. On 21 July 2011, Ichihashi was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder.


Lindsay Hawker

Lindsay Hawker was born to Bill and Julia Hawker in Coventry, West Midlands as the middle child of three daughters; her sisters are Lisa and Louise. She moved to Japan in October 2006 to teach English at the Koiwa branch of Nova in Tokyo, which was Japan's largest private English conversation school. Her family are from Brandon, a Warwickshire village outside Coventry.

She was schooled at King Henry VIII School, Coventry, and was an alumna of the University of Leeds, where she studied biology and had achieved a first-class honours degree, graduating in 2006. She was popular and outgoing; although she had a view to studying for a Master's, she opted to teach English for a year in Japan. She shared her accommodation with two other female teachers, one from Australia, the other from Canada.

On the day she disappeared, her family became distressed due to her lack of contact—she had used a variety of media, including e-mail, Skype, and telephone to regularly stay in contact with her family during her time there.

Tatsuya Ichihashi

Tatsuya Ichihashi (市橋 達也 Ichihashi Tatsuya), aged 28 at the death of Hawker, lived in the city of Ichikawa, in Chiba Prefecture, just east of Tokyo. Born in Gifu Prefecture on 5 January 1979 Ichihashi grew up in Chiba and Gifu, as his father relocated his family due to a job assignment as a medical doctor, along with his dentist wife.

After graduating from Department of Horticulture, Chiba University in 2005, Ichihashi did not work, but lived on an allowance of roughly over ¥100,000 (over £600 at that time) a month from his parents. Little has been made public about him due to the comparatively restrictive nature of Japanese privacy laws, and the reticence of his parents to speak about him.

Ichihashi had no previous convictions, but he had been the subject of an allegation of "theft and injury" six years before Hawker's death. Ichihashi had allegedly assaulted a woman on the street during a robbery, but the matter had been settled out of court. Ichihashi had been in a stable, year-long relationship with a Japanese woman at the time of Hawker's killing.

Police described him as a loner with an obsession for physical fitness: He regularly attended a gym and cycled 25 kilometres a day. He also had an interest in violent manga comics, which some reporters linked to the case.


Hawker recited the story of how she met Ichihashi to her boyfriend, who lived in England, by email. Four days before the killing happened, she was approached by him on her train journey home from work. Ichihashi at first claimed she was his English teacher (she was not); and then asked her to confirm if she was an English teacher. Ichihashi ran after her as she cycled home and asked for a glass of water when she arrived. Hawker had felt sorry for him and decided, as a precaution, to let him in to show him her two flatmates. Once inside, Ichihashi took out a pen and paper and drew a picture of her, signing it with his name, telephone number, and e-mail address. At some point, the pair agreed to meet for an English lesson four days later, at a cafe, which was something the Nova school allowed.


Hawker and Ichihashi met on Saturday 24 March 2007 in the cafe. When the session had been concluded, they caught a taxi to Ichihashi's apartment, which was a few hundred yards down the road. Hawker told the taxi driver to wait for a short time and went up to Ichihashi's apartment. Seven minutes later, the taxi driver left after she failed to arrive.

Hawker's naked body was found buried in a sand/soil-filled bathtub on the apartment's balcony. She had been bound and gagged with plastic ties and scarves, with one of her hands lying outside the mixture. Both Hawker and Ichihashi were familiar with martial arts (Ichihashi was much more experienced, having attained a black belt), and it appeared, from the bruises that were present across Hawker's upper body, that she had been the subject of a prolonged attack—her possessions were found strewn across the room as well.

Police said that the egg-sized bruises on the left side of her face appeared to have been inflicted with a fist, while lesser marks on her upper body were the result of collision with furniture. Hawker had died when her assailant began strangling her and broke the cartilage of her neck. Her head was shaved after she was killed.

It had been widely reported in the days after her death that Ichihashi had buried her only in sand. Ichihashi had buried the body in sand and compost soil, and then sprayed it with a substance used to compact and decompose waste. It is believed that this had been done with a plan in mind to either bury the body in concrete or to wait until it had decomposed. Ichihashi had bought the materials over six visits to his local hardware store; these visits had been made in the hours leading up the arrival of the police force, on 26 March.

After failing to attend her lessons that were scheduled for 25 and 26 March, Nova reported Hawker missing at 2.30 pm on the 26th. Hawker's friends had tried to contact the police previously, but the message was not passed along adequately amongst the authorities. Two officers were dispatched, and reached Ichihashi's apartment at 5.40 pm. After being made aware of the previous allegation made against Ichihashi, and noticing that there was no light on inside the apartment, but that there appeared to be somebody in there, these officers called for back-up at 7.00 pm (they were not permitted to knock without proper cause). Within the next hour, seven more officers arrived.

Two hours after the nine officers had assembled outside, Ichihashi walked out of his front door, with a rucksack on and in bare feet (this would be unusual since, though shoes are traditionally left in the Japanese foyer and not worn inside, they are almost always worn out of doors.) Ichihashi was made aware of the situation and attempted to run away from the officers. One was able to grab his rucksack, but he continued to flee. Ichihashi's escape was aided in part by the fact that none of the officers had walkie-talkies, and so the officers on the fourth floor could not alert those on the ground. Ichihashi lost the officers after vaulting the last few feet of the stairway to the ground, but was later rediscovered, having found a pair of athletic shoes, before escaping again by zigzagging through the street. The contents of his rucksack did not suggest that he was trying to escape: All it contained was his gym clothes, and police believed that he was going there to wash them.


Police suspect that between Sunday night and early Monday, Ichihashi moved the bathtub from the bathroom to the balcony and put Hawker's body into it. Neighbors said they heard sounds of something striking metal and something being dragged during that time. Police obtained an arrest warrant Tuesday for Ichihashi on suspicion of abandoning her body, and put him on the nationwide wanted list.

On 29 March, detectives removed a shopping trolley from Ichihashi’s apartment building, in which he is believed to have transported the bags of horticultural soil where Hawker was buried. On 29 March, a team of twenty Japanese police officers raided Hotel Chateau, a love hotel near Nishi-Funabashi Station, east of Tokyo, where rooms are rented to couples by the hour, but did not find Ichihashi.

On 13 March 2008, Japanese police released a new wanted poster of Ichihashi, which included an enhanced image of the suspect disguised as a woman. They also released images of a drawing he had made of Hawker in the hopes that someone would recognize the drawing style.

In the early months of 2008, the police investigated sightings of Ichihashi among the gay sections of Kabukicho in Tokyo, where he had tentatively been identified by his male sexual partners. However, in the latter part of this year, the investigation appeared to have gone cold. In October 2008, by which time 140 officers had become involved in what was a relatively large investigation, it was suggested by police that Ichihashi may have committed suicide. Hawker's father called this a "ploy" to scale down the operation, and some inside sources signalled that the investigation was coming to a close. However, this was not directly communicated to either the Hawker family or the British Foreign Office.

Reports continued to abound speculating Ichihashi's location, and on 15 January 2009, in an article in Japan Today, it was reported that Ichihashi, who had turned 30 on 5 January 2009, had fled and gone underground in the Philippines, according to a reporter from Spa!, the weekly magazine. For years, Japanese criminals wanted by Japanese authorities have fled to the Philippines to escape arrest, making the Philippines something of a haven for Japanese criminals. On the second anniversary of her death (see below), life-size cut-outs of Ichihashi were released by the police to raise the profile of the case. At this point, the Hawkers were for the first time critical of the progress the investigation was making.

On 26 June 2009, the Japanese National Police Agency raised the cash reward for information leading to the arrest of Tatsuya Ichihashi, from ¥1 million to ¥10 million. Police usually offer cash rewards of ¥1 million to ¥3 million for information leading to arrest in serious cases. The manner in which this reward would be distributed was questioned when Ichihashi was arrested later that year, as a number of informants had contributed to his capture. These included a cosmetic surgery clinic in Nagoya, an employee at an Osaka construction company where Ichihashi had been employed for 14 months, and an Osaka ferry company employee who reported the sighting of someone who bore resemblance to Ichihashi.

On 4 November 2009, police disclosed that Ichihashi had undergone plastic surgery on 24 October at the clinic in Nagoya, where he had his nose uplifted after he had failed to receive surgery in Fukuoka in mid-October. He had apparently received cosmetic surgery on several occasions to remove two moles on his cheek, add a fold to his eyelids, thin both his lips, and to increase the height of his nose before he visited the Nagoya clinic. Police released a photograph taken immediately before his latest surgery to the press.


On 10 November 2009, Ichihashi was captured in Osaka while attempting to board a ferry to Okinawa. Ichihashi did not confess upon being arrested, and when his 23-day detention period without charge expired on December 2, he was initially charged with abandoning a body, and served two more warrants for rape and murder. It has been alleged by Ichihashi's lawyers that during this period he was threatened with the death penalty if he did not speak, and his reticence was attributed to fatigue and stress.

On 23 December, one of his lawyers announced that he had acknowledged that he was involved in her death, but that he had not intended to kill her, and had attempted artificial resuscitation.

Stephen Green, writing for the Japan Times, commented that the case, which had been extensively covered by the media, was likely to test the fairness of the judicial system in Japan, which operates a lay judge system and has the option of the death penalty in certain cases. However, it is extremely rare in Japan to be sentenced to death for killing only one victim. As of 2010, fewer than 10 of the 111 inmates on Japan's death row have killed only one person, including previous convictions.


In court, Ichihashi admitted to suffocating Hawker, to prevent her from screaming for help while he raped her.


On 21 July 2011 Tatsuya Ichihashi was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Lindsay Hawker by the Chiba District Court. The Hawker family had asked for the death penalty for Ichihashi, but the court felt that the death penalty was not appropriate as Ichihashi had no previous convictions and at the age of 32 there was still a chance that he could be rehabilitated.

Media coverage

Hawker's parents have striven to keep Hawker's case on the media agenda, appealing for information shortly after the murder. and visiting Japan three months later in order to renew attention. Her family visited again a year after her death, imploring the media to keep the case alive and for Ichihashi to hand himself in. Although Bill Hawker expressed dismay at the lack of knowledge surrounding whereabouts, he stressed that "we have not come here to criticize the Japanese police." They returned again on the second anniversary, and Hawker's father revisited the country later that year, a month after Ichihashi's arrest, to express his gratitude.

Hawker's case has been repeatedly compared to the 2000 murder of Lucie Blackman, another female British citizen, whose dismembered body was found buried in a shallow grave at a beach in Miura, Kanagawa in January 2001. Mizuho Fukushima, quoted in The Asia Pacific Journal and Jenny Holt in the Guardian newspaper has criticised the sensationalist coverage of the case in the British press, characterising it as a combination of missing white woman syndrome and yellow peril racial scaremongering.

In September 2008 a three-part radio play loosely based on the Hawker case, "A Tokyo Murder," by John Dryden and Miriam Smith, was broadcast by BBC Radio 4.

Ichihashi has written a book named Until I Was Arrested which tells his side of the story. Ichihashi had offered Hawker's family all royalties his book might earn, an offer the family rejected.



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