Archive for the ‘News’ category

Man cleared over Lucie Blackman death

April 25, 2007

The family of Lucie Blackman who died in Japan in 2001 have been left devastated as the man they believed killed their daughter has been cleared.

54-year-old Joji Obara, a Japanese businessman, was cleared of raping and killing Miss Blackman.

21-year-old Lucie had been working at a bar in Tokyo and disappeared in July 2000.

The judge said that there was no proof that Obara alone was responsible for Lucie’s death.

Lucie’s mother, Jane Steare, said on the result of the trial: “I’m heartbroken. I just can’t believe this. My worst fears have come true.”

Speaking before the trial to the BBC she described the pain and anguish she had been through.

She said: “To lose a child and to know her body was desecrated in such an evil way is the greatest and most unrelenting pain I have ever had to endure.

“I often awake again in the early hours and begin wondering if this was the time of night she died.

“I wonder if she suffered, ‘Did she feel any pain? Did she call out my name?’ I will never know.”

Mr Obara was jailed for life for raping nine other women, one of whom an Australian, Carita Ridgway, died from liver failure after the incident.

The Japanese police have been heavily criticised for their handling of the investigations, with the families of Miss Ridgway and Blackman both unhappy at how slowly the police reacted to claims that their daughters had disappeared.

The Blackman family has since setup the Lucie Blackman Trust which provides advice for solo females travelling abroad.


British backpacker dies in New Zealand crash

April 10, 2007

A British backpacker has died in a road accident in New Zealand while on a round the world trip.

23-year-old Adam Birdsey was taking a gap year after completing a degree in business at the University of Derby.

He was killed after the camper van they were driving collided with a pick-up truck that was towing a speedboat at a junction in Blenheim on New Zealand’s South Island.

Adam’s mother, Sheelagh Birdsey, of Cam, Gloucestershire, 55, said: “The whole family is still coming to terms with his loss.

“His dad is in New Zealand and we are both finding it very hard to come to terms with it.

“I can’t even find the words to explain how devastated we both are by losing Adam – he was such a lovely boy.”

Adam’s father, David, 60, has flown to New Zealand and is expected to return in around a week with his son’s body.

On Adam’s MySpace page he had posted a survey on his personal details that revealed he would like to die in “a blazing ball of fire”.

Adam was a keen football player and played for AC Royals, in Hillesley, near his hometown.

Martyn Dean, club manager, had fond memories of Adam.

He said: “Adam was a great lad. He would help anybody out. He enjoyed life and he enjoyed his football. It’s just a sad, tragic end to a life.

“Our thoughts go out to his family.”

Four other backpackers were hurt in the crash, David McCallum, 23, Ian Mills, 22, Dean Clark, 22 and Samuel Barber, 20. (more…)

Good news for rail travellers

April 3, 2007

Those of you thinking of heading off around Europe this summer on one of those inter-rail passes will be pleased to know that the French have set a new record speed with their TGV service. This should allow faster links between European cities, which means you can see more with your rail pass.

New bumper passports

March 20, 2007

Gap year travellers can now get a ‘bumper passport’ for all those far away country stamps.


The new passport, costing £77, has 16 extra pages in it.


It is identical to current passports, but has 48 pages, and is biometric.

First Choice buys out meaningful travel firm

March 20, 2007

Meaningful travel company i-to-i is just one of three businesses purchased by holiday provider First Choice.

i-to-i was part of a buyout that saw First Choice spending £16.6m to extend its portfolio of travel companies.

The two other businesses, iExplore and TKJ Pty Ltd, will join i-to-i in making up the First Choice activity holiday sector.

Chief executive of First Choice, Peter Long, said: “We have established a leading presence in the adventure travel market, not only in the UK but also internationally.

“We have led the way in consolidating this fragmented growth area and these three businesses give us the opportunity to enter new segments of the market place, broaden our product range, and offer exciting growth prospects and wider-scale future development prospects.”


Deirdre Bounds, who started i-to-i, said: “i-to-i is a company full of passion but we’ve been out there on our own in this industry and we were a bit war weary.

“We have now got offices around the world and we needed more distribution channels, which is what First Choice has.”

Carbon footprint awareness boosts rail travel

March 12, 2007

A growing awareness of leaving a ‘carbon footprint’ while travelling has boosted rail holidays and business trips.


Rail operators in Europe are seeing a huge increase in demand for their inter-rail tickets, as cheap flights fall out of favour with environmentally friendly travellers.


Stephanie Draper, spokesperson for Forum for the Future, a sustainable development charity, said: “I think the whole agenda has been set now with aviation being in the spotlight.


“People are waking up to the fact that we need to deal with environmental problems and the way you travel is a big part of that. One return flight to New York can blow your carbon balance for the year.


“It’s become more pleasant and more productive to travel by train, especially to European destinations.”


New high speed rail links across the continent have also been linked to the rise in demand, as they cut down journey times and allow travellers to see more on their trips.


The TGV train system in France has been extended to cut the journey time from Paris to Strasbourg from four to two hours.


Ana Diaseseixas, international marketing manager for Eurail Group, said: “Which other travel product offers the possibility to young people, who make up 70 per cent of Interrailers, to travel without having to book in advance?

”It is possible to buy an InterRail Pass and jump on the train the same day. It means no planning, no reservation, pure adventure and freedom.”