The Royal Marine who was named yesterday as Taunton man Sergeant Alexander Wayne Blackman has been sentenced to life in prison.
The experienced Plymouth-based Royal Marine was filmed executing an injured Taliban insurgent in cold blood and has been given a ten year minimum jail sentence.
Blackman, 39, whose name was made public for the first time yesterday following a ruling by judges at the High Court in London, was convicted last month of murdering the Afghan national in Helmand Province in September 2011.
Two other comrades, known only as Marine B and Marine C, were acquitted of murder by the court martial board in Bulford, Wiltshire.
The killing happened five months into an arduous six-month tour of Helmand province in 2011, known as Operation Herrick 14.
Blackman shot the Afghan, who had been seriously injured in an attack by an Apache helicopter, in the chest at close range with a 9mm pistol before quoting a phrase from Shakespeare as the man convulsed and died in front of him.
“There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil, you c***. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us,” Blackman told him.
Blackman then turned to comrades and said: “Obviously this doesn’t go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.”
The execution was filmed by a camera mounted on the helmet of Marine B.
Marines B and C were alleged to have been “party to the killing” and “encouraged and assisted” Marine A in committing the murder but they were cleared.
Blackman was given a life sentence with the minimum term decided by the seven-man court martial board made up of senior non-commissioned officers and officers, and Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett.
During his evidence at the court martial, Blackman, who denied murder, admitted he fired his gun out of anger but insisted the insurgent was already dead.
Blackman explained to the court martial why he fired: “Stupid, lack of self-control, momentary lapse in my judgment.
“I thought about it over the last year as we get towards these proceedings but I cannot give any other reason than to say that it was poor judgment and lack of self-control. I thought he was dead.”
He blamed “foolish bravado” for quoting Shakespeare at the dying man and said it was something “I am not proud of”.
Blackman, who completed tours of Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland during his military career, had 15 years experience in the Royal Marines.
He was in charge of Command Post Omar in Helmand during the tour and was considered a safe pair of hands by his superiors.
At 6ft 3in, he was a physically imposing Marine who always led from the front and was an expert in heavy weapons, including machine guns.
Blackman was credited with building good relations with the local population.
His role in Afghanistan also included taking part in shuras – meetings with community leaders and elders.
Prior to a video of the murder coming to light, Blackman was being considered for promotion to colour sergeant.
The judge told Blackman, who stood to attention to hear the sentence, that he had disgraced the name of the British armed services and had put troops' lives at risk by his actions.
“This was not an action taken in the heat of battle or immediately after you had been engaged in a firefight,” the judge said.
“Nor were you under any immediate threat – the video footage shows that you were in complete control of yourself, standing around for several minutes and not apparently worried that you might be at risk of attack by other insurgents.
“You treated that Afghan man with contempt and murdered him in cold blood. By doing so you have betrayed your corps and all British service personnel who have served in Afghanistan, and you have tarnished their reputation.
“In one moment you undermined much of the good work done day in day out by British forces and potentially increased the risk of revenge attacks against your fellow service personnel.
“You have failed to demonstrate the self-discipline and restraint that is required of service personnel on operations, and which sets British troops apart from the enemy they fight.”