Man admits strangling Lindsay Ann Hawker

A man has admitted raping and strangling British teacher Lindsay Ann Hawker - but said he did not intend to kill her.

Tatsuya Ichihashi, 32, made the admissions during the opening of his murder trial in Chiba, Japan today.

He stands charged with murdering the 22-year-old English teacher who worked at a private language school on the East Asian island.

Miss Hawker was found dead in a sand-filled bathtub on the balcony of the defendant's apartment in Chiba, east of Tokyo, in March 2007.

Ichihashi, 32, who was one of her students, was arrested in Osaka, in western Japan, on November 10, 2009 and has been in custody since.

Miss Hawker's parents Bill and Julia are attending the trial at Chiba District Court.

"I'm here to get justice for my daughter," Mr Hawker said yesterday. "It's been a long time coming."

Under the Japanese system the Hawkers will be classed as "victim participants" and will be able, at the discretion of the court, to question the defendant and give their opinion on sentencing.

They will also be able, for example, to ask to examine the prosecution evidence.

In January Ichihashi promised to donate the proceeds of a book in which he confessed to the killing to Miss Hawker's family.

It detailed how he spent two and a half years on the run following the murder and how he underwent plastic surgery to change his appearance.

Ichihashi also apologised to Miss Hawker's family, claiming he wrote the book as "a gesture of contrition for the crime I committed".

While at large, Ichihashi said he travelled through 23 prefectures (states) across Japan and became obsessed with cosmetic surgery due to fears of his arrest - even attempting procedures on himself with scissors.

He also claimed to have embarked on a pilgrimage tour of temples on the south-western island of Shikoku, wishing Miss Hawker could "come back to life".

He was finally arrested in Osaka while waiting for a ferry to Okinawa.

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