Mother to fly home body of murdered Lucie

The mother of murdered British hostess Lucie Blackman was today preparing for a meeting with detectives in Japan investigating the case.

An emotional Jane Blackman was met by British officials when she arrived in the Japanese capital Tokyo yesterday to make arrangements for Lucie's body to be flown back to Britain.

Mrs Blackman, 47, from Sevenoaks, Kent, was not accompanied by Lucie's father, her ex-husband Tim, a 48-year-old property developer based in Ryde, on the Isle of Wight.

Mr Blackman is scheduled to arrive in Tokyo tomorrow. He flew to Japan last year to conduct his own search for Lucie, making personal appeals to Prime Minister Tony Blair and other British politicians for help.

Lucie's dismembered body was found in a cave less than 200 metres from a luxury apartment owned by the chief suspect, Joji Obara.

The former British Airways stewardess disappeared while working as an hostess in a Tokyo bar. Her body is expected to be flown home next weekend.

Police have yet to charge anybody in relation to Lucie's disappearance and death.

Speaking at the British Embassy in Tokyo, Mrs Blackman told reporters: 'I have to sign documents to enable the body of my beloved daughter Lucie to be taken home and arrange for her funeral to be conducted with the dignity she deserves.

'There are no words to describe my grief. If you had a child, you would know exactly how I felt.'

Mrs Blackman said she was not sure why it took police seven months to find her daughter's body. But she refrained from criticising them, and instead thanked them for their hard work and kindness.

'I have every confidence in the way they handled this case,' she said. She declined to comment on potential suspects in the case.