Thursday, 17 September 2015

Concern over Royal Marine Sergeant convicted of murder

The case of former Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander Blackman has again come into the news.  He was sentenced by the Court Martial to life imprisonment for the murder of an already wounded Taliban fighter.  His case was debated in Parliament (Westminster Hall) on Wednesday 16th September.  Material has come to light which was not presented to the Court Martial and may at least have the effect of reducing the offence to one of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.    The Court Martial imposed a minimum term before eligibility for parole of 10 years but this was reduced to 8 years by the Court Martial Appeal Court.  Given the new material, the Daily Mail is campaigning to have the case considered by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.  The Commission has the power to refer the case to the Court Martial Appeal Court.

Court Martial Appeal - On an appeal from the Court Martial to the Court Martial Appeal Court, the minimum term to be served by Alexander Wayne Blackman was reduced to 8 years.  At the time of his trial by the court martial he was referred to as Marine A.  Previous posts on the case are at Murder in Helmand (11th November 2013) and Royal Marine sentenced for murder (6th December 2013).  The appeal is reported on Bailii as R v Blackman [2014] EWCA Crim 1029.   Readers of the judgment will be interested to note the strong mitigation detailed in paragraph 75 and the point the Lord Chief Justice makes about there being no need for an additional element in the sentence for deterrence purposes (para 76) where the LCJ stated:

' ... the particular circumstances did not require an additional term by way of deterrence to the sentence as the Court Martial found. The open and very public way in which the proceedings were conducted overall, the worldwide publicity given to the appellant's conviction, the life sentence imposed on him and the significant minimum term he must in any event serve before any consideration of parole will be sufficient deterrence.'

For further on this case, see also ICLR Weekly News

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