BREAKING NEWS: Victory for Marine A! Appeal Court Judges clear Sgt Alexander Blackman of murdering Taliban fighter in Afghanistan
Soldier Alexander Blackman – better known as Marine A – was today cleared of murder and had his conviction reduced to manslaughter.
His conviction for shooting dead a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan was sensationally overturned as the Appeal Court ruled it ‘unsafe’ and a ‘miscarriage of justice’.
His wife Claire beamed and there were loud gasps and then cheers from his family, ex-Marines and other supporters as five top judges lifted the stain on his character.
Sergeant Blackman, who has already served three years in prison, will face a new sentencing hearing in the next week but his legal team will now argue for him to be released.
On the steps of the court Mrs Blackman said she was ‘delighted’ with the decision and thanked the tens of thousands of people who have supported her husband and his legal battle.
She added: ‘This is a crucial decision and one which better reflects the circumstances my husband found himself in during that terrible tour in Afghanistan. We now hope to get a significant reduction in his sentence’.
At a hearing in February the judges were urged to overturn Blackman’s ‘unsafe’ murder conviction on the basis of ‘uncontradicted’ evidence from three psychiatrists that he was suffering from a mental illness – an adjustment disorder – at the time of the killing.
They heard that at the time of the 2011 incident, he was serving with Plymouth-based 42 Commando in Helmand province in ‘ghastly’ conditions which were a ‘breeding ground’ for mental health problems.
In Wednesday’s ruling, the judges said Blackman had been ‘an exemplary soldier before his deployment to Afghanistan in March 2011’.
They ruled: ‘The appellant suffered from quite exceptional stressors … during the time of that deployment which increasingly impacted on him the longer he was in command at CP Omar.’
The judges said it was ‘clear that a consequence was that he had developed a hatred for the Taliban and a desire for revenge’.
At the time of the killing ‘the patrol remained under threat from other insurgents’.
The judges said: ‘Given his prior exemplary conduct, we have concluded that it was the combination of the stressors, the other matters to which we have referred and his adjustment disorder that substantially impaired his ability to form a rational judgment.’
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