Marine who shot injured Taleban must wait for appeal result

Claire Blackman, wife of imprisoned marine Alexander Blackman, outside the court with supporters. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Claire Blackman, wife of imprisoned marine Alexander Blackman, outside the court with supporters. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
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A Royal Marine who shot an injured Taleban fighter in Afghanistan must wait to hear the result of an appeal against his murder conviction.

Yesterday, the Court Martial Appeal Court in London said it would “take time” to consider its decision in the case of Sergeant Alexander Blackman.

One of the grounds of appeal is that fresh psychiatric evidence would have provided him with a diminished responsibility defence.

Five judges, headed by Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, have been urged to overturn the conviction on the basis of “uncontradicted” evidence from three distinguished psychiatrists that he was suffering from a mental illness – an adjustment disorder – at the time of the killing.

Blackman, 42, from Taunton in Somerset, watched from prison by video link as Jonathan Goldberg QC argued that the conviction was “inevitably not safe”.

Richard Whittam QC, for the Crown, said there was no evidence to the contrary about Blackman having an adjustment disorder but the issue was “did it cause what happened”.

“One has to assess the breadth of the disorder and the effect it was having.”

Blackman was convicted in November 2013 by a court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire, and sentenced to life with a minimum term of ten years.

In May 2014, the Court Martial Appeal Court rejected a conviction challenge, but reduced the minimum term to eight years because of the combat stress disorder he was suffering from.

During his trial, Blackman, who denied murder and was known as Marine A, said he believed the victim was already dead and he was taking out his anger on a corpse.

The judges have heard that at the time of the 2011 incident, Blackman was serving with Plymouth-based 42 Commando in Helmand province in “ghastly” conditions which were a “breeding ground” for mental health problems.

Blackman shot the insurgent, who had been seriously injured in an attack by an Apache helicopter, in the chest at close range with a 9mm pistol before quoting a phrase from Shakespeare as the man convulsed and died in front of him.

He told him: ‘’There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil, you c***. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us.’’

He then turned to his comrades and said: ‘’Obviously this doesn’t go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.’’

He was “dismissed with disgrace” after serving with distinction for 15 years.