A Japanese man who raped and murdered an English teacher before putting her body in a bath filled with sand has lost an appeal against his life sentence.

Tatsuya Ichihashi was sentenced in July 2011 for the 2007 murder of Lindsay Hawker, 22.

His lawyers appealed for a shorter sentence at Tokyo high court. They said he had suffocated Hawker accidentally and that the crime was not premeditated.

But the appeal was rejected after Ichihashi admitted raping and killing Hawker. She died when he tried to muffle her screams.

Hawker from Brandon, Warwick was teaching the defendant to speak English before he attacked her.

Judges argued that he had planned the murder and maintained the original sentence.

For nearly three years, Ichihashi was on the run and was considered Japan's most wanted man. He had cosmetic surgery and disfigured himself using scissors to evade capture.

He published a book about it his time evading the law. He claimed he wrote the book as a "gesture of contrition for the crime I committed" and promised to donate all proceeds to Hawker's family.

Her relatives did not attend the appeal.