By Yoko Kubota
CHIBA, Japan (Reuters) - A Japanese man was sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday for raping and killing Briton Lindsay Ann Hawker and burying her naked body in a sand-filled bathtub in a case that horrified Japan and sparked a media frenzy.
Tatsuya Ichihashi, 32, who was living in the apartment where the 22-year-old English teacher's body was found in 2007, eluded a massive manhunt for nearly three years after fleeing his apartment when police arrived to question him. He even mutilated his face to change his appearance.
Hawker's parents came from Britain to hear the verdict. Her mother wiped tears from her face and nodded several times as she listened to the verdict.
Ichihashi, in a black shirt and grey pants, with a mop of curly hair, did not move as the verdict was being read out.
After Ichihashi went missing, police conducted a nationwide search and offered up to 10 million yen ($127,000) as a reward for information leading to his arrest.
A visit to a plastic surgeon ultimately led to Ichihashi's arrest in 2009 after the doctor contacted the police. He was caught at a port in western Japan, where he was waiting for a ferry to the southern island of Okinawa. ($1 = 78.865 Japanese Yen)
(Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Chris Gallagher)