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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?