As Brighton marine awaits sentence for manslaughter, BBC film offers insights into combat stress

Posted On 16 Mar 2017 at 3:35 am

As Brighton marine Alexander Blackman learnt that his conviction for murdering a Taliban fighter had been reduced to manslaughter, the BBC broadcast a film giving insights into combat stress.

The BBC TV episode of Panorama included footage filmed in the moments surrounding the shooting of the enemy fighter shot by Sergeant Alex Blackman.

And the episode included the words spoken by Sergeant Blackman before and after pulling the trigger as well as the first interviews with some of those who served alongside him in Afghanistan.

Sergeant Blackman shot the Taliban insurgent in September 2011 and was convicted of murder in November 2013 and jailed for life.

At the Court Martial Appeal Court yesterday (Wednesday 15 March) five judges accepted that Sergeant Blackman, 42, from Bevendean, had been suffering from an “adjustment disorder”.

Experts testified that this was a recognised mental disorder, described as a form of combat stress.

The judges reduced Blackman’s murder conviction to manslaughter on the ground of diminished responsibility.

Alexander Blackman

The Panorama programme was put together by the film-maker and anthropologist Chris Terrill who has been following the case since the start.

He was embedded with Sergeant Blackman’s unit when the badly injured insurgent was killed during what has been described as the “tour from hell”.

The BBC said: “The film provides a stark sense of what it was like to be stationed in a ‘kill or be killed’ outpost set in what was then described as ‘the most dangerous square mile in the world’.”

Sergean Blackman’s wife Claire said after the verdict: “We are delighted at the judges’ decision to substitute manslaughter by diminished responsibility.

“This is a crucial decision and one that much better reflects the circus that my husband found himself in during that terrible tour of Afghanistan.

“We must now wait for the sentencing hearing and hope to secure a significant reduction in Al’s sentence.”

She thanked all those who had supported the campaign on behalf of Sergeant Blackman, including “the Royal Marines family” and the legal team.

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