The Daily Telegraph

My husband’s wrongful conviction has robbed me of half my marriage

Wife of Marine A Alexander Blackman tells of impact of life sentence as she faces further delay in his release

- By Joe Shute

THE wife of Marine A has said that her husband’s wrongful conviction for murder robbed her of half of her marriage, as judges ruled that he must spend at least another weekend in jail.

Claire Blackman appeared as a character witness at the Royal Courts of Justice yesterday, where supporters had gathered in the hope Alexander Blackman would finally be able to walk free.

During the hearing, Blackman, who in 2013 was given a life sentence for the murder of a wounded Taliban insurgent in Afghanista­n, was described by his defence barrister as “the last victim of a failed war”.

However, despite his murder conviction having been reduced to manslaught­er on the grounds of diminished responsibi­lity on March 15, the panel of five judges decided to delay an eventual decision on when the 42-year-old will be released until next Tuesday.

It also emerged during the hearing that Blackman, from Taunton, in Somerset, could rejoin the Royal Marines in a non-frontline role upon his release.

Occupying the witness stand dressed all in black and watched by her husband, who appeared via video link from Erlestoke Prison in Wiltshire, Mrs Blackman said they had only spent half of the eight years together since marrying in 2009 because he was languishin­g in jail. They had already had time apart because he was fighting abroad.

“Even in our current circumstan­ces we laugh a lot,” she said.

Mrs Blackman, a 45-year-old NHS communicat­ions manager, described the devastatio­n her husband felt on being expelled from the regiment he served with distinctio­n for 15 years, and welcomed the prospect of him returning to the Royal Marines as “a real positive”.

“The arrest and the conviction were a huge shock,” she said. “But it was the dismissal in disgrace that was the hard- est aspect of the whole episode to bear. I often said if you cut my husband in half you would see Royal Marine all the way through him.”

During the packed hearing, which had an entire row in the gallery allocated to retired officers of the rank colonel or above, the court heard a number of statements testifying to the exemplary character of Alexander Blackman, who had served six tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanista­n.

Jonathan Goldberg QC, defending, said that over the course of his career Blackman estimated he has “personally and lawfully killed 30 of the Queen’s enemies on the battlefiel­d”.

Mr Goldberg said his eventual mental breakdown – which led to him shooting the Taliban insurgent who had already been severely wounded by an Apache helicopter in 2011 – was due to the pressures placed upon his men fighting in Nad-e Ali, described as “the most dangerous square mile on Earth”.

Mr Goldberg also provided the hearing with new evidence from a pathologis­t, Dr Ashley Fegan-Earl.

“He concludes it was inevitable the insurgent would have died within minutes anyway,” Mr Goldberg added.

Among those present in court was L/Cpl Cassidy Little, a former Royal Marine who served under Blackman in Afghanista­n and lost his right leg in a blast from an improvised explosive device which killed two other soldiers.

A statement was read out by another Royal Marine commando, Thomas Quinn, who served under Blackman in Helmand.

“If he was to come back to the Royal Marines, I would follow him to hell and back without any questions,” he told the court.

At the end of the hearing, a crowd of a hundred or so supporters and veter- ans gathered on the court steps waving flags.

Three cheers were given for Mrs Blackman as she left the building.

In a short statement outside, she expressed her disappoint­ment at the delay but added: “We will patiently await their ruling.”

‘The arrest was a shock, but the dismissal in disgrace was the hardest aspect of the whole episode to bear’

 ??  ?? Claire Blackman outside the Royal Courts of Justice for a hearing about her jailed Royal Marine husband Alexander
Claire Blackman outside the Royal Courts of Justice for a hearing about her jailed Royal Marine husband Alexander
 ??  ?? Former Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander Blackman is still behind bars
Former Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander Blackman is still behind bars

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