Royal Marine Sgt Alexander Blackman jailed for life for the murder of Afghan insurgent

The execution by the once anonymous soldier was filmed by a camera mounted on the helmet of another Marine

A Royal Marine commando filmed killing an injured Taliban captive received a life sentence today and was warned he would serve at least 10 years in prison.

Sergeant Alexander Blackman, 39, was told he had disgraced the name of the British armed forces by murdering the Afghan fighter and had put other soldiers’ lives at risk by his actions.

Blackman was convicted last month at a court martial board of murdering the man and was also dismissed in disgrace from the marines after 15 years’ previously unblemished service.

The killing in Helmand Province in September 2011 was only discovered after it was filmed by a camera mounted on the helmet of a fellow marine.

Blackman shot the injured captive in the chest at close range with a 9mm pistol before quoting a phrase from Hamlet as the Afghan died before him.

He told the insurgent: “Shuffle off this mortal coil, you c***. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us.”

Blackman, whose identity was revealed two days ago, then turned to two comrades and said: “Obviously this doesn’t go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.”

The witnesses, known only as Marine B and Marine C, were cleared of murder by the court martial.

The sentence was passed down by a seven-man court martial board and Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett.

Blackman stood to attention to receive his sentence as the judge told him: “This was not an action taken in the heat of battle or immediately after you had been engaged in a firefight.

“Nor were you under any immediate threat. The video footage shows you were in complete control of yourself, standing around for several minutes and not apparently worried that you might be at risk of attack by other insurgents.

“You treated that Afghan man with contempt and murdered him in cold blood. By doing so you have betrayed your corps and all British service personnel who have served in Afghanistan and you have tarnished their reputation.

“In one moment you undermined much of the good work done day in day out by British forces and potentially increased the risk of revenge attacks against your fellow service personnel.”

Blackman was then marched out to begin his sentence, which will be served in a civilian prison.

At the court martial he had denied murder, admitting he fired his gun out of anger but insisting the captive was already dead. He blamed a “stupid, lack of self-control” for shooting at the insurgent and “foolish bravado” for quoting Shakespeare at the dying man.

Blackman had completed tours of Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland during 15 years’ service in the Royal Marines.

He was considered a safe pair of hands by his superiors and credited with building good relations with the local population in Afghanistan. He was being considered for promotion to colour sergeant before the incriminating video came to light.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, this week overruled pleas from his legal team for his identity to remain secret in order to protect his family.

His solicitor said he was “devastated” by the sentence and wanted to apologise for any damage to the Royal Marines from his actions.

The Ministry of Defence said it had followed an independent legal process. It said: “We respect the authority and decision of the court and it would be inappropriate of us to comment on the sentence.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent