Sydney Morning Herald
Saturday, February 17, 2001

Life for wife: husband cut up, put in garbage

Sydney Morning Herald

A woman who murdered her retired gangster husband, cut him up with an electric saw and put him out with the garbage has been jailed for life.

A Queensland Supreme Court jury yesterday convicted Akiko Kitayama, 54, who had pleaded not guilty to the April 1999 murder of Mr Hamago Kitayama, in their Surfers Paradise unit. Mr Kitayama's body has not been found.

The Kitayamas lived on the Gold Coast on self-funded retirees' visas. Mr Kitayama, 62, a former member of the Yakuza crime group in Japan, put up more than $1 million to secure residency in Australia for himself, his wife and their adult daughter Kimiko.

Justice John Muir sentenced Mrs Kitayama to mandatory life imprisonment, which in Queensland requires 15 years to be served before application can be made for parole.

During a three-week trial the court was told that Mrs Kitayama, an alcoholic who was on prescription medication, had used an electric saw to cut her husband up in a bathroom and put his body parts in plastic bags that were left in the basement to be collected as garbage.

Police did not find a saw, and a five-day search of the rubbish tip where the building's garbage would have been dumped failed to find any sign of a body.

Mrs Kitayama's motive for the murder was that her husband had become too much of a burden since suffering a stroke in 1997, the trial heard. She had also admitted to having a male friend in Japan.

It was alleged she had wanted to claim on her husband's life insurance policy, worth $300,000.

In police interviews she admitted she had tried to strangle her husband three times in the past.

The defence maintained it was speculation that if Mr Kitayama was indeed dead, his wife had anything to do with it.


Copyright © 2001. The Sydney Morning Herald