Murder marine facing life sentence

Maldon and Burnham Standard: A Royal Marine convicted of murdering an injured insurgent in Afghanistan has been publicly named.
A Royal Marine convicted of murdering an injured insurgent in Afghanistan has been publicly named.

A hugely experienced Royal Marine who completed tours of Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland during his military career is facing a life sentence for murder tomorrow.

Sergeant Alexander Wayne Blackman, whose name was made public for the first time today following a ruling by leading judges at the High Court in London, will learn his fate for killing an injured insurgent in Afghanistan.

On November 8 a court martial board in Bulford, Wiltshire, found the 39-year-old guilty of murdering the man - who had been seriously injured in an attack by an Apache helicopter - in Helmand more than two years ago.

Blackman had 15 years' experience in the Royal Marines, having joined in 1998, and was in charge of Command Post Omar in Helmand province during Operation Herrick 14 in 2011.

He was considered a safe pair of hands by his superiors and at 6ft 3in a physically imposing Marine who always led from the front.

An expert in heavy weapons, including machine guns, he was credited with building good relations with the local population and was friendly with a mullah who lived close to CP Omar.

His role in Afghanistan also included taking part in shuras - meetings with community leaders and elders.

Prior to a video of the murder coming to light, Blackman was being considered for promotion to Colour Sergeant.

He shot the insurgent in the chest but said he believed the victim was already dead and he was taking out his anger on a corpse. He has said he felt ashamed at his lack of self-control, describing it as "a stupid lack of self-control and lapse in judgment".

Previously known as Marine A, his name was disclosed following a ruling by Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, Mr Justice Tugendhat and Mr Justice Holroyde, which lifted an anonymity order preventing him being identified.

They also announced that two acquitted servicemen should be named - but their identities will not be released pending a possible move by their lawyers to take the issue on to the Supreme Court, the UK's highest court.

The question of the naming of two other Royal Marines, against whom charges were discontinued, will be the subject of a further hearing.

Lawyers for the five Royal Marines challenged an order which lifted anonymity following the conviction of Blackman - Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett ruled that the names of the three defendants and the two other servicemen should be identified publicly.

The decision by the three judges followed a hearing last week during which argument was made on behalf of the servicemen that their lives would be at "real and immediate" risk if their names were released.

The murder happened five months into an arduous six-month tour of Helmand province in 2011, known as Operation Herrick 14.

As the unknown insurgent lies on the floor convulsing and struggling for breath, Sergeant Blackman tells him: "There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil you c***. It's nothing you wouldn't do to us."

During his evidence at the court martial Blackman, who denied murder, confirmed that he was telling the truth about believing the insurgent to be dead and agreed that the shooting was a "spur of the moment decision because of pent-up emotions".

The killing was captured on a camera mounted on the helmet of another serviceman, known as Marine B.

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