Wife of Marine jailed for killing Afghan hopes he will be home in days
The wife of a Royal Marine jailed for life for shooting dead a wounded Taliban fighter has spoken of her hope that he will come home by the end of the week.
Sergeant Alexander Blackman, known as Marine A, was convicted of murdering the Afghan captive in Helmand province in September 2011, but the case is set to return to court following the presentation of new evidence.
His wife, Claire Blackman, said she was "trying hard not to get excited" about a bail hearing on Friday, which could see Blackman released in time for their wedding anniversary and Christmas.
"We've still got to get the yes from the judge," Mrs Blackman told Forces TV.
"We think we've got a really strong application for bail and we're hopeful, of course - it would be amazing, it would be fantastic, but one step at a time."
She added: "Just to get him home is the important thing. He hasn't spent many wedding anniversaries at home so it would be great."
Mrs Blackman said there was a "real chance" that her husband's murder conviction could be "overturned with a view possibly to manslaughter instead, but that's still all to be argued".
Blackman was found guilty of murder at a court martial at the Military Court Centre in Bulford, Wiltshire, in 2013.
But the presentation of new evidence relating to Blackman's mental health at the time of the death in Helmand - and the fact that an alternative verdict of unlawful act manslaughter was not available during the trial - means the case will return to the court.
Judges will then consider whether to quash his conviction, commute the sentence to manslaughter or order a retrial at a court martial.
"The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) have agreed with our legal team that in the previous court martial there was a responsibility on the part of all parties, including the judge, to have considered the option of manslaughter as well as the murder charge that was put to the court, and that didn't happen," Mrs Blackman said.
"That really is our main argument, is that the court process wasn't followed properly."
Blackman, of Taunton, Somerset, who was serving with Plymouth-based 42 Commando, was given a life sentence after shooting his victim - who had been seriously injured in an Apache helicopter attack - in the chest at close range with a 9mm pistol.
Footage from another marine's helmet-mounted camera showed Blackman shooting the Afghan prisoner while quoting Shakespeare. Blackman was heard telling him: "There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil, you c***. It's nothing you wouldn't do to us.''
He then turned to comrades and said: "Obviously this doesn't go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.''
He denied murder, saying he believed the victim was already dead and he was taking out his anger on a corpse.
The Daily Mail reported that judges would be urged to free Blackman while he awaits appeal on account of his "great integrity" and several prominent figures offering to pay his bail.
Blackman's legal team will ask a military court to release him on bail in time for Christmas and his wedding anniversary, and are expected explain that he will not flee the country as he feels a "duty and a debt of gratitude" to his legions of supporters, according to the newspaper.
The judges will also reportedly be told that the former director special forces, Major General John Holmes, MP Richard Drax, author Frederick Forsyth and a former marine, John Davies, have each offered to pay identical £50,000 bail sureties.
Maj Gen Holmes told the newspaper: "I have supported Sgt Blackman's cause since the outset. I am more than happy to help stand his bail so he can be reunited with his family."
On Tuesday the CCRC referred Blackman's conviction to the Courts Martial Appeal Court.
The appeal hearing could be heard in summer or autumn 2017, according to the Daily Mail.
Blackman's bail hearing is expected to take place at 2pm on Friday at the Royal Courts of Justice.