The Daily Telegraph
Marine A has suffered enough, says Carey
THE former Archbishop of Canterbury has said he is “praying” for Marine A’s release, arguing that the former sergeant, Andy Blackman, has been punished enough for a split-second decision in the “heat and dust of battle”.
George Carey, who served in the Armed Forces, argued ahead of Blackman’s reviewed sentencing tomorrow that it was “hard to understand the pressures” soldiers endured “unless you have walked a mile in their shoes”.
Blackman, 42, from Taunton, Somerset, was convicted of murder in 2013 and sentenced to life for shooting dead a wounded Taliban fighter while on duty in Helmand province in 2011.
Earlier this year, appeal judges overturned the verdict and replaced it with a conviction for manslaughter given that Blackman – known at his first trial as Marine A – was suffering from an “abnormality of mental functioning”.
He will learn tomorrow if he will have any more prison time to serve.
Lord Carey said: “I understand this man was a magnificent soldier with a long and distinguished record of service to the Queen. I have served myself in the Armed Forces and know that in the heat and dust of battle, split-second decisions must be made and expediency can sometimes overcome strict morality, even for the best of men.”
The former archbishop, who served in Iraq as an RAF radio operator in the Fifties, said: “The prison sentence he has already served seems long enough both for him and his dignified wife, and I pray for his release.
“We need men like this at this time,” he added.
The panel of five judges at the Court Martial Appeal Court were due to resentence Blackman for diminished responsibility manslaughter last Friday but postponed a ruling until this week, meaning Blackman spent Mother’s Day weekend in prison.
Blackman’s new legal team, led by Jonathan Goldberg QC, told judges on Friday that “the incarceration of almost three and a half years which he has already served is already too much for his crime”.
In court last week, the marine’s wife, Claire, said they had only been together for four and a half years of their eightyear marriage because of foreign postings and now a prison term.