Lucie Blackman's father in £450,000 'blood money' row

Family divided as Tim Blackman accepts payout from friend of man accused of his daughter's rape and murder in Japan
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The Independent Online

The father of murderered British hostess Lucie Blackman has accepted a payout from a friend of the Japanese man charged over her death, he revealed last night.

Tim Blackman has been paid 100 million yen (£450,000) by a college friend of Joji Obara, the millionaire businessman currently on trial for allegedly abducting the 21-year-old before raping and killing her and disposing of her mutilated remains in a cave.

Mr Blackman's decision to accept the cash was immediately criticised by his estranged wife, who condemned it as 'blood money'. His surviving son and daughter are also believed to disagree with their father's controversial decision.

Mr Blackman said Obara, 54, still denied murdering the former British Airways flight attendant in 2000, but was aware that his friend - an industrialist with businesses in Japan and the UK - had made the offer of condolence, which is acceptable under Japanese law.

"I know my ex-wife referred to it as blood money but I do not understand that or see that at all. I think it is through lack of information," Mr Blackman said.

"The majority of the money will be put into an account somewhere and we will see how everybody feels about it at the end of the trial.

"It is really difficult as a parent and head of a family to make decisions sometimes when people have lots of different views about it but at the end of the day you have to make the decision that you are going to make."

But Lucie's mother, Jane Steare, said she had turned turned down an offer of around £200,000 herself, and accused her ex-husband of "betrayal" for accepting the condolence payment.

"I have rejected all and any payments from the accused, as have my daughter, Sophie, and my son, Rupert," she said.

"He is conducting these negotiations against my wishes and the pleas of his children. Lucie's loyal family and friends are sickened by Tim Blackman's utter betrayal."

Their daughter, who had been working at a hostess bar in Tokyo's Roppongi entertainment district, vanished after saying she was going for a drive with a man on 1 July, 2000.

Mr Blackman explained he had taken the offer because the opportunity for a payout was due to expire at the end of this month and if Obara were to be found guilty, there would be no chance of a civil suit because he has been declared bankrupt.

A substantial amount of the money will go to the Lucie Blackman Trust, which promotes personal safety. The rest is likely to be used to support the Blackman family.