Jailed marine secures new Afghan murder appeal hearing

Alexander Blackman Image copyright PA
Image caption Sergeant Alexander Blackman was convicted of murder at a court martial in 2013

A former Royal Marine jailed for murdering an insurgent in Afghanistan is to have his case heard by the Courts Martial Appeal Court for a second time.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission said it decided to refer the conviction of Sgt Alexander Blackman following an 11-month investigation.

Blackman, 42, from Taunton, was known during his trial as Marine A.

He had applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission after his earlier appeal was dismissed in 2014.

The CCRC said the fresh appeal would look at a number of issues including new expert evidence relating to Blackman's mental state at the time of the offence and the fact that an alternative verdict of unlawful act manslaughter was not available at his original trial.

'Real possibility'

David James Smith, lead CCRC commissioner on the case, said it had been scrutinised "in minute detail" and his team had "concluded that there are new issues - principally relating to Mr Blackman's state of mind at the time of the shooting".

He said that this raised "a real possibility that an appeal against conviction would now succeed".

The killing on 15 September 2011 took place after a patrol base in Helmand province came under fire from two insurgents.

One of the attackers was seriously injured by gunfire from an Apache helicopter sent to provide air support, and the marines found him in a field.

Footage from the helmet-mounted camera of another marine in his unit, 42 Commando, showed Blackman shooting the Afghan prisoner in the chest at close range with a 9mm pistol.

Blackman was convicted of murder in November 2013 and jailed for life. He lost an appeal in May of the following year, but his 10-year minimum term was reduced to eight years.

He was one of three Royal Marines tried by Court Martial for murder. His co-defendants were referred to as Marine B and Marine C and they were acquitted of murder.

Blackman's supporters say the killing was manslaughter, not murder, and launched a campaign to review the case.

During his trial, Blackman said he had believed the victim was already dead and he had been taking out his anger on a corpse.

The CCRC said the appeal court would now either uphold the conviction, quash the conviction, quash the conviction and substitute it with another or quash the conviction and order a retrial.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: "We will continue to co-operate fully with any legal process involving Sergeant Blackman's case."

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