Murder case Royal Marine loses bail bid before conviction challenge

A Royal Marine serving life after being found guilty of murdering an injured Afghan fighter has been refused bail pending a new challenge against his conviction.

Sgt Alexander Blackman, 42, of Taunton in Somerset, failed to persuade two judges at the court martial appeal court in London to free him from prison.

The bail move followed the announcement by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the independent body that investigates possible miscarriages of justice, of its decision to refer Blackman’s conviction and sentence to the court for review.

Blackman watched Wednesday’s proceedings via video link from jail. His wife Claire was in the packed courtroom with dozens of supporters.

Blackman was convicted in November 2013 by a court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire, and sentenced to life with a minimum term of 10 years, which was later reduced to eight years on appeal because of the combat stress he was suffering from at the time of the incident.

He shot the insurgent in Helmand province in 2011 while serving with Plymouth-based 42 Commando.

There was a loud sigh of disappointment from supporters in the public gallery as the decision to refuse bail was announced by Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, sitting with Mr Justice Sweeney. The CCRC referred the case for review following an 11-month “in-depth” investigation.

It announced it had concluded that a number of new issues, including fresh evidence relating to Blackman’s mental state, “raise a real possibility” that the court martial appeal court “will now quash Mr Blackman’s murder conviction”.

Blackman shot the insurgent, who had been seriously injured in an attack by an Apache helicopter, in the chest at close range with a 9mm pistol before quoting a phrase from Shakespeare as the man convulsed and died in front of him. Blackman told him: “There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil, you cunt. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us.”

He then turned to comrades and said: “Obviously this doesn’t go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.” The shooting was captured on a camera mounted on the helmet of another Royal Marine.

During his trial, Blackman – who denied murder and was known at that stage as Marine A – said he believed the victim was already dead and he was taking out his anger on a corpse. He was “dismissed with disgrace” from the marines after serving with distinction for 15 years, including tours of Iraq, and Northern Ireland.

Speaking outside the court following the ruling, Claire Blackman said: “We are obviously disappointed by the judges’ decision not to grant bail this afternoon.

“However we must remember that earlier this month the CCRC decided to refer the case back to the appeal courts and this is the most important step towards getting Al’s conviction and sentence overturned.

“We are grateful to the courts for expediting the appeal process.”

Source : theguardian[dot]com