Tuesday 28 March 2017

R v Alexander Wayne Blackman - sentencing for manslaughter

On 15th March, the Court Martials Appeal Court substituted a conviction for manslaughter in the case of former Royal Marine Alexander Wayne Blackman - previous post.   The substitution of a manslaughter conviction was on the basis of diminished responsibility at the time of the offence (September 2011).  On Tuesday 28th March, a sentence of 7  years imprisonment was imposed - read the court's sentencing remarks.  The court directed that time on remand in service custody be counted towards the sentence.  Mr Blackman remains dismissed from the Armed Forces but this is NOT with disgrace.

The court stated that this was plainly a case for a determinate sentence [6].  Although the appellant's responsibility was diminished he still retained a substantial responsibility for the deliberate killing [10].  Aggravating factors are set out at [11] and mitigating factors at [12].  Counsel had argued that a sentence discount of one-third should be applied [14] but the court considered this argument to be misconceived [15].  The appellant's wife had told the court that dismissal with disgrace was the "cruellest punishment" that the appellant considered he had suffered [18].  The court decided that the question of dismissal could not be just left to the military authorities but decided to order dismissal from the Armed Forces but NOT dismissal with disgrace [18-20].

The court gave its reasons for refusing an application by media outlets for release of video clips taken by another Marine at the time of the killing - see the reasons.   The court balanced the principles of open justice and the rights of media parties under Article 10 (European Convention on Human Rights) and held that the release of the three clips would significantly endanger a large number of people, not only in the United Kingdom but elsewhere.  The balance lay against their disclosure and the application was refused.

Having served half of the 7 year term, Mr Blackman was released on licence on 28th April 2017 - The Guardian 29th April 2017.

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