DCSIMG

Royal Marine who murdered Afghan jailed

Alexander Blackman shot and killed an injured Taleban fighter. Picture: PA

Alexander Blackman shot and killed an injured Taleban fighter. Picture: PA

  • by ANGUS HOWARTH
 

A ROYAL Marine has been handed a life sentence and told he will serve at least ten years in jail for executing an injured Taleban fighter.

Sergeant Alexander Blackman, 39, murdered the Afghan national in Helmand province in 2011.

The married commando said he was “very sorry” for his actions, which were filmed on the headcam of a comrade during a patrol in “the most dangerous square mile in Afghanistan”.

At a court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire, Blackman – a senior non-commissioned officer with 15 years’ experience – was “dismissed with disgrace” from the Royal Marines.

Speaking after Blackman was led away to begin his sentence in a civilian prison, his solicitor, Issy Hogg, thanked the public who had supported the disgraced marine.

“Sgt Blackman and his wife are devastated by the life sentence imposed upon him, together with the order that he serve a minimum of ten years before he is eligible for parole,” she said.

“Furthermore, he has been dismissed with disgrace from the Royal Marines, with whom he has served proudly for 15 years.

“He is very sorry for any damage caused to the Royal Marines. Finally, Sgt Blackman thanks the public for the support shown to him and his wife.”

Miss Hogg said Blackman intended to appeal his sentence.

The sergeant had been known as “Marine A”, but he was named on Thursday after judges at the High Court in London ruled his identity should be made known.

He was convicted last month after a two-week court martial in which his two co-accused, known only as Marines B and C, were acquitted of murder.

The killing happened five months into an arduous six-month tour of Helmand with Plymouth-based 42 Commando.Blackman shot the Afghan, 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.

Footage of the killing was found by police who were investigating an unrelated incident.

“There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil, you c***. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us,” Blackman told him.

Blackman, who is 6ft 3in tall, then turned to comrades and said: “Obviously, this doesn’t go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.”

He told the court martial he fired his gun out of anger but insisted the insurgent was already dead and explained why he fired: “Stupid, lack of self-control, momentary lapse in my judgment.”

The court heard a glowing reference in a letter from Blackman’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Simon Chapman, who said the sergeant had been considered for promotion.

Anthony Berry, QC, for Blackman, called for leniency, saying: “It is no exaggeration to say that sergeants like Blackman in the British Army and the marines really form the backbone of the individual operations.”

But sentencing Blackman, Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett said: “You treated that Afghan man with contempt and murdered him in cold blood.

“By doing so, you have betrayed your corps and all British service personnel who have served in Afghanistan, and you have tarnished their reputation.”

 
 
 

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