Get my lit­tle boy back for Mother’s Day

Marine A’s mum hopes he’ll be re­leased from prison by Sun­day

Daily Mail - - News - By Sam Green­hill Chief Re­porter

MARINE A’s mother says it would be ‘the best present ever’ if he was re­leased from prison in time for Mother’s Day on Sun­day.

Frances Black­man’s son Alexan­der be­came the coun­try’s most talked-about Royal Marine when he was jailed for life – on his mother’s 74th birth­day – af­ter the most con­tro­ver­sial episode of the Afghan war.

Yes­ter­day Mrs Black­man spoke of her tears of joy when her son’s mur­der con­vic­tion was quashed at the Ap­peal Court last week. On Fri­day, judges will con­sider whether Sgt Black­man can be re­leased from HMP Er­lestoke in Wilt­shire. If he is re-sen­tenced to seven or fewer years, he could be re­leased im­me­di­ately on the ba­sis of time served.

His fa­ther, Brian Black­man, will not be there. It was his death shortly be­fore the ‘tour of hell’ that contributed to Sgt Black­man’s men­tal an­guish. A traf­fic jam meant he was un­able to reach his fa­ther’s bed­side be­fore he died, and the Ap­peal Court heard how he had scat­tered his ashes dur­ing leave in July 2011, two months be­fore he snapped on the bat­tle­field.

Sgt Black­man, 42, has spent three and a half years in prison for shoot­ing and killing a wounded Tal­iban fighter in Hel­mand prov­ince on Septem­ber 15, 2011.

Last week, af­ter Daily Mail read­ers raised £800,000 to fund a new ap­peal, his mur­der con­vic­tion was down­graded to man­slaugh­ter on the grounds of di­min­ished re­spon­si­bil­ity. The judges ruled the ex­em­plary com­mando had been suf­fer­ing com­bat trauma brought on by ‘quite ex­cep­tional’ stresses, in­clud­ing sleep de­pri­va­tion, daily Tal­iban at­tacks, lack of sup­port from com­man­ders and the re­cent death of his fa­ther’.

Yes­ter­day Mrs Black­man, now 77, told the Mail: ‘It has been a ter­ri­ble time, but now this year at last I can look for­ward to Mother’s Day. I’m just keep­ing my fin­gers crossed he will get out soon.

‘It has been tough with things like Christ­mases and birthdays – you just can’t take his presents to prison. I have al­ways hoped and prayed for help, and the mar­vel­lous peo­ple of Bri­tain came to his aid. They all de­serve a medal for help­ing my son.

‘I want to thank the Daily Mail read­ers from the bot­tom of my heart. They re­alised what Alexan­der was go­ing through. He was sol­dier­ing in a nasty place and do­ing his best with his men.’ Mrs Black­man added: ‘He might be 6ft 3in but he is still my lit­tle boy. Alexan­der would al­ways give me a cud­dle. He was al­ways af­fec­tion­ate. When he got his first job, he said he was go­ing to pay for ev­ery­thing from then on. He was a lovely boy.’

Mrs Black­man, of Brighton, said that when she heard the news of her son’s con­vic­tion be­ing quashed: ‘I was cry­ing. Tears were stream­ing down my face. I’ve shed quite a few tears the past few years but th­ese were tears of joy.’

She said her son was treat­ing prison ‘just like an­other tour – just this time he’s not get­ting shot at’, adding that he had been teach­ing other pris­on­ers English and maths, work­ing in the prison li­brary and study­ing for a de­gree. She re­vealed he had strug­gled with the tragedy of how a traf­fic jam stopped him be­ing there when his fa­ther died. Brian Black­man had also served his coun­try, in the Royal Horse Ar­tillery, where he drove ar­tillery ve­hi­cles. Mrs Black­man said: ‘Brian was so proud when Alexan­der went up in rank [to sergeant]. It would have bro­ken Brian’s heart to know what hap­pened. ‘Alexan­der re­ally strug­gled with his dad’s death. He was stuck in the traf­fic af­ter there was an ac­ci­dent and he couldn’t get to the hospi­tal in time to see him. It al­ways ate him up.’ Mrs Black­man said of her daugh­ter-in-law, Claire, who led the cam­paign to get Sgt Black­man re­leased: ‘Claire de­serves a medal. It can be hard for a mum to give up her boy to an­other woman, but when you see what Claire has done for him, you can’t have any doubt how much she loves him.’ Mrs Black­man has seen the grim video footage of her son tak­ing a man’s life, and said: ‘I was shocked that he did what he did. But I firmly be­lieve he felt he was look­ing af­ter his troops. He promised the mums of the other Marines that he would look af­ter their sons. ‘It’s life and death. Ev­ery time they went out on pa­trol they didn’t know if they were go­ing to be blown to pieces. You are liv­ing on your nerves. Alexan­der would have put him­self in dan­ger rather than any­one else.’

‘I was cry­ing tears of joy’

Proud par­ents: Sgt Black­man, aged 1 , flanked by Frances and Brian

Proud Marine: Alexan­der Black­man, 24

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