Could murder conviction of 'Marine A' be quashed?

The Criminal Cases Review Commission is referring the murder conviction and sentence of former Royal Marine Alexander Blackman to the Court Martial Appeal Court.

Alexander Blackman from Taunton, and formerly of Plymouth-based 42 Commando, was convicted of murder after shooting dead a wounded enemy combatant in Afghanistan on 15th September 2011.

He was one of three Royal Marines tried by Court Martial for the murder of the unidentified man killed in Afghanistan. At the time of trial Mr Blackman’s identity was protected and he was referred to only as Marine A. His co-defendants were referred to as Marine B and Marine C.

On 6th December 2013, Blackman was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum custodial term of ten years. He was also reduced to the ranks and dismissed with disgrace from Her Majesty’s Service.

Marine B and Marine C were acquitted of murder.

A Credit: ITV News

Mr Blackman appealed against his conviction and sentence. In May 2014 the appeal against conviction was dismissed but the Court reduced the minimum custodial term of his life sentence to eight years.

On 16th December 2015, Mr Blackman applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission for a review of his conviction and sentence.

Following an in-depth eleven-month long investigation, the Commission has decided to refer the case to the Court Martial Appeal Court.

The referral is made on the basis of a number of issues including:

  • New evidence, including new expert evidence acquired by the Commission, relating to Mr Blackman’s mental state at the time of the offence.

  • The fact that an alternative verdict of unlawful act manslaughter was not available to the board when it considered the case.

The Commission has concluded that these issues raise a real possibility that the Courts Martial Appeal Court will now quash Mr Blackman’s murder conviction.

We have scrutinised this murder conviction in minute detail and after a thorough investigation we have concluded that there are new issues – principally relating to Mr Blackman’s state of mind at the time of the shooting – which in our view raise a real possibility that an appeal against conviction would now succeed. On that basis we are sending the case back to the Courts Martial Appeal Court so that a fresh appeal can be heard.”

David James Smith, CCRC Commissioner