Royal Marine who murdered Taliban is named by judges
Sergeant Alexander Wayne Blackman loses right to anonymity after conviction for 'cold-blooded' killing
THE Royal Marine convicted of murdering a Taliban prisoner in Afghanistan has been named as Sergeant Alexander Wayne Blackman.
The 39-year-old soldier's name was made public today after judges overturned an anonymity ruling that has been in place for a year. Blackman will be sentenced tomorrow, and faces life imprisonment, after becoming the first British serviceman since "at least the Second World War" to be convicted of murder during an overseas deployment, The Guardian reports.
Walker was convicted last month for the "cold-blooded" killing of a badly-wounded Afghan insurgent in Helmand Province in 2011. Two other Marines, who were cleared of being involved in the murder, will also be named. But their identities will not be released immediately because of a possible move by their lawyers to take the issue to the Supreme Court, Sky News says.
For more than 12 months, Blackman was referred to in court papers and press reports as Marine A. Today, three of the "most senior judges in the country", including the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas, agreed that, in the interests of open justice, he should be named, the Guardian says.
It can now be revealed that Blackman is married and has been in the elite regiment since his "mid 20s", the paper reports. He has "served with distinction" in Northern Ireland and completed three tours of Iraq and two of Afghanistan.
"He took part in fierce fighting in Iraq as British forces helped overthrow Saddam Hussein and had many narrow escapes including one incident in which a vehicle he was in was badly damaged in a grenade attack," the Guardian says. "He completed an exemplary first tour of Afghanistan."
Blackman was sent to Helmand Province in March 2011 as part of a mission to help build schools, hospitals, roads and get Afghan forces ready for the withdrawal of foreign troops.
He was "hit particularly hard" by the deaths of two fellow marines who were killed by a roadside bomb in May, 2011, his court martial heard. One man lost a leg in the attack and Blackman and his comrades were "horrified" to see it had been hung in a tree as a "trophy".
Blackman's final tour of Afghanistan went from "bad to worse", the Guardian says. By September – when he murdered the insurgent – the marines were stretched, partly because of the "number of fatalities and injuries they had suffered". His team only had one day of rest every two or three weeks, his court martial heard.
Sergeant Blackman admitted he "lost control" when he shot and killed the wounded Taliban fighter. A camera mounted in another soldier's helmet recorded him telling the dying man: "There you are, shuffle off this mortal coil, you c***. It's nothing you wouldn't do to us."
Blackman's family say he has their "love and backing," the Guardian reports. But his military career is over and he faces years behind bars in a civilian prison. ·