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Royal Marine Alexander Blackman expresses 'relief' at sentence cut

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Sgt Alexander BlackmanImage copyright
AP

Royal Marine Alexander Blackman has spoken of his “profound sense of relief” after his sentence for shooting dead a wounded Taliban fighter in Afghanistan was reduced.

He has spent more than three years in jail and told the Daily Mail his wife’s support had “sustained” him throughout.

Blackman, 42, from Taunton, Somerset, has had his sentence reduced to seven years but will soon be released.

It came after his murder conviction was reduced to manslaughter two weeks ago.

Blackman, who was known as Marine A during the original trial process, may be freed next month because of time already served.

‘My heart sank’

He had been “braced for the worst” during the hearing at the Court Martial Appeal Court in London on Tuesday, he said.

“My heart sank when the judge started talking about my current sentence being the equivalent of 16 years, and I thought it was somehow leading to a larger sentence,” he told the paper.

“I just felt a profound sense of relief when they said seven.”

Media captionClaire Blackman asked the media for “some time together to readjust”

Claire Blackman said she was “overjoyed” at the outcome, having campaigned for her husband’s release.

She said: “This is the moment that we have all been fighting hard for. It is hard to believe that this day is finally here.”

Blackman said he was “an extremely lucky man to have Claire as a wife”.

He added: “We hear so many other stories of relationships going bad when you are inside. That hasn’t happened for us.

“Her love and support has simply sustained me.”

Blackman watched Tuesday’s proceedings by video link from prison. He was originally convicted in November 2013.

Earlier this month, his sentence was reduced to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility.

His dismissal from the military remains, although it is no longer classed as dishonourable.

Media captionExtract from helmet camera audio recording of incident in Helmand

The case relates to an incident in September 2011 when one of two insurgents was seriously injured by gunfire from an Apache helicopter and marines from 42 Commando found him in a field.

Footage from an unofficial helmet-mounted camera of another marine was found during an unrelated investigation and showed Blackman shooting the Afghan prisoner in the chest at close range with a 9mm pistol.

The court martial heard that Blackman used abusive language and said: “There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil.”

He then turned to his comrades and said: “Obviously this doesn’t go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.”

Image caption

Sgt Blackman’s actions were caught on another marine’s helmet camera

Blackman told his original trial he had believed the victim was already dead and he had been taking out his anger on a corpse.

Reducing the conviction earlier this month, the judges said Blackman had suffered from “quite exceptional stressors” which increasingly affected him the longer he was in command.

He had more than 13 years of service and had previously been deployed to Iraq on three occasions and to Afghanistan in 2007.

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