A jailed marine from Brighton has been given fresh hope after his case was sent to appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
Alexander Blackman, 42, known during his court martial trial as Marine A, was convicted of murdering a wounded enemy in Afghanistan.
But new expert evidence was submitted to the commission about Sergeant Blackman’s mental state during what has been described as a “tour from hell”.
The commission said that “an alternative verdict of unlawful act manslaughter was not available” when the case was previously considered.
And it said: “These issues raise a real possibility that the Court Martial Appeal Court will now quash Mr Blackman’s murder conviction.”
His case has been supported by the Daily Mail newspaper, with £800,000 raised towards his legal costs by readers in less than a month.
And demonstrations have taken place outside the Houses of Parliament, with ex-servicemen and women of all ranks rallying to his cause.The Mail quoted the former marine’s wife Claire as saying: “This is the most fantastic news. I am feeling a little dazed. It is very hard to express how much gratitude we both feel.”
The newspaper said that, after speaking to her husband by telephone last night, she said: “He is absolutely ecstatic. He had not dared to hope but now he is starting to allow himself to think about the future.”
Mr Blackman, from Bevendean, could be home by Christmas, according to the Mail.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission said: “Alexander Blackman was convicted of murder after shooting dead a wounded enemy combatant in Afghanistan on (Thursday) 15 September 2011.
“Mr Blackman pleaded not guilty when tried for murder at a Court Martial at the Military Court Centre, Bulford, Wiltshire, between (Wednesday) 23 October and (Friday) 8 November 2013.
“He was one of three Royal Marines tried by Court Martial for the murder of the unidentified man killed in Afghanistan.
“At the time of trial Mr Blackman’s identity was protected and he was referred to only as Marine A. His co-defendants were referred to as Marine B and Marine C.
“The board convicted Mr Blackman of murder contrary to section 42 of the Armed Forces Act 2006 and, on (Friday) 6 December 2013, he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum custodial term of ten years.
“He was also reduced to the ranks and dismissed with disgrace from Her Majesty’s Service.
“Marine B and Marine C were acquitted of murder.
“Mr Blackman appealed against his conviction and sentence. In May 2014 the appeal against conviction was dismissed but the court reduced the minimum custodial term of his life sentence to eight years.
“On (Wednesday) 16 December 2015 Mr Blackman applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission for a review of his conviction and sentence.
“Following an in-depth 11-month-long investigation, the commission has decided to refer the case to the Court Martial Appeal Court.
“The referral is made on the basis of a number of issues including
• New evidence, including new expert evidence acquired by the commission, relating to Mr Blackman’s mental state at the time of the offence
• The fact that an alternative verdict of unlawful act manslaughter was not available to the board when it considered the case
• The commission has concluded that these issues raise a real possibility that the Court Martial Appeal Court will now quash Mr Blackman’s murder conviction
“It will now be for the court to hear a fresh appeal and to decide the case.”