Old Bailey Solicitors

The case of Marine ‘A’

The case of Marine ‘A’

If you have been reading the news over the last few weeks you will have probably seen a lot of press publications surrounding the Marine A appeal.

This blog post will take a quick look at the case, why it ended up having an appeal and what the current status is.

What is the Marine A case?

Back in November 2013, Sergeant Alexander Blackman (known as Marine A) was found guilty of murder by a court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, and to serve a minimum of 10 years.

A very brief background to this case is that whilst on deployment in Afghanistan in March 2011, and whilst suffering from stress (however no psychiatric evidence was called at trial), Sergeant Blackman fatally shot a Taliban fighter.

This 10 year term was later reduced to eight years on appeal, because of the combat stress disorder he was suffering from at the time. By way of an explanation, Combat Stress is by no means a defence to any criminal misconduct, but it can be used as a mitigating factor when it comes to sentencing.

What happened at the Appeal?

After exhausting his routes to appeal through the courts the Criminal Case Review Commission (CCRC) (link – http://www.ccrc.gov.uk )made the decision to look into the safety of Sergeant Blackman’s conviction. The CCRC referred this issue for appeal which took place at the Royal Courts of Justice, London, and he viewed this from prison via video link.

The five judges at the Court Martial Appeal Court found that the first decision made by the Court Martial was unsafe, and the murder conviction had to be quashed. Had the necessary psychiatric evidence and any other evidence been presented to the Board, then it would have been extremely likely that the defence of diminished responsibility would have been put forward and the Board could have discussed the issue of guilt and whether a conviction was appropriate.

It was then decided that Sergeant Blackman was suffering from an adjustment disorder (a recognised medical condition) both at the time of the killing and at the time of the court martial. Therefore, based on the further psychiatric evidence available, Sergeant Blackman now had the partial defence of diminished responsibility available to him and was ordered to serve a 7 year sentence.

When will Sergeant Blackman be released?

As the newspapers have suggested it is likely that Sergeant Blackman will be released from prison in the next few weeks.

This is because Sergeant Blackman has already served close to three and a half years in prison. As with anyone that has been sentenced to a determinate term, a release would ordinarily take place at the halfway point of the sentence. This means that Sergeant Blackman is likely to be released sometime in April.

For more information on the offences of murder or manslaughter click here. You will also be able to see how Old Bailey Solicitors can assist those charged with these types of offences.

Old Bailey Solicitors also assists with appeals, so if you would like to contact us regarding any matters that have arisen please do so via our contact page.

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