Lost Abroad: The Parents’ Story Review

March 31, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

LOST ABROAD: THE PARENTS’ STORY: Thursday April 1st, Channel 4, 9pm ALERT ME

Receiving news that their child has been killed is every parent’s blackest nightmare. But when this happens in a foreign country, the circumstances surrounding their death can be even more difficult to comprehend.

Lost Abroad centres on two British families who have both been placed in this heart-rending situation.

Lindsay Hawker, a 22 year old teaching English in Japan was found half buried in a bath tub full of sand in a balcony in Tokyo in 2007. The prime suspect, Tatsuya Ichihashi eluded police by running past them as they tried to gain access to his flat.

Jeremiah Duggan was a British student living in Europe. He befriended men from a mysterious organisation called The LaRouche movement and abruptly left his home in Paris to join them in Germany. His last terrified phone call to his mother Erica was an ominous precursor for things to come – he ran out on the autobahn and was hit by several cars 45 minutes later.

The Hawker family’s frustrations at the Japanese police’s failures and their bewildering attempts to placate them when their admirable patience starts to wane (offering five cardboard cut-outs of the suspect as progress in the investigation) is completely understandable.

Seeing Bill pacing the streets of Tokyo giving out flyers and repeating the mantra of “have you seen this man? in Japanese over and over is nothing short of heartbreaking.

Jeremiah’s mother has been trying to get the case reopened for six years. After numerous trips to Europe, she’s at her wit’s end. But as no one was directly involved in Jermiah’s death, the police have dismissed it as a suicide.

What both families have in common is obsession – a passionate desire to gain justice for their children and closure for themselves. The programme’s very good at communicating the emotional devastation that tragedy can bring. The Hawker daughters recall how they’ve had to look after their parents since Lindsay’s death and how it’s been the sole focus of their family for the last two and a half years. And Erica’s impotent attempts to get some answers from the LaRouche Movement mirror her bitter frustrations – she just wants answers where none can be found.

For the Hawkers their persistence is rewarded. Ichihashi was picked up last year trying to board a ferry – a plastic surgeon recognised his face after their constant campaigns. There’s no such happy ending for Erica Duggan and she continues to petition for her son’s case to be reopened but it’s hard to believe she’ll ever find anyone who’s responsible for her son’s death and if her search will ever end.

Lost Abroad is a poignant and heartfelt look at the family’s often forgotten in the wake of tragedy. Powerful stuff.