A Plymouth-based Royal Marine imprisoned for executing a Taliban fighter in cold blood acted in a moment of madness and is not a murderer, his wife has said.
Sergeant Alexander Blackman received a 10-year minimum life sentence after he was found guilty at a court martial.
The 39-year-old senior non-commissioned officer with 15 years’ experience was convicted last month following a two-week hearing in which his two co-accused, known only as Marines B and C, were acquitted of murder.
He was also ‘’dismissed with disgrace” from the Royal Marines.
But his 42-year-old wife, Claire, in her first interview said the action was utterly out of character and was something he wishes he could undo.
“He’s been convicted of murder but everything that defines Al points me and everyone who knows him in completely the opposite direction – he is not made that way,” Mrs Blackman told the Telegraph newspaper.
“If you ask someone what murder is in this country they might say someone stabbing a little old lady in the high street.
“Death on active service in a war zone in somewhere like Afghanistan is, sadly, an everyday occurrence. I can’t really imagine the horror or the pressure those lads were under.”
She added: “He’s held his hands up. What he has not done in my eyes is commit murder. He genuinely thought, and I have absolutely no reason to disbelieve him, that that insurgent was already dead.
“He should not have discharged his weapon into him – it was the madness of the moment – and he sure as hell wished he hadn’t either but he is not a murderer.
“He can’t undo it and he’s ashamed of it but I still don’t think it should have led to where we are now.”
Blackman, known to his family and friends as Al and through the hearing as Marine A, was named after an anonymity order was lifted by High Court judges following his conviction.
The killing happened five months into an arduous six-month tour of Helmand province in 2011 with Plymouth-based 42 Commando, known as Operation Herrick 14.
Blackman, along with two others named as Marine B and C who were acquitted of murder, were on patrol in an area known as the “most dangerous square mile in Afghanistan.”
The 6ft 3in physically imposing marine, 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 ****. 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.”
He told the court martial that he fired his gun out of anger but insisted the insurgent was already dead and said it was a “lack of self-control, momentary lapse in my judgment”.
In the immediate aftermath of the conviction, a poll revealed one in three people believed that a Royal Marine sentenced to life in prison for executing a Taliban fighter in cold blood should serve no jail time, a poll has found.
A total of 35% of respondents wanted Sgt Alexander Blackman to serve no jail sentence, 23% believed he should do five years, 20% were in favour of 10 years, while 22% thought he should be imprisoned for more than 10 years, the Mail on Sunday reported.
The results of the poll came at the same time as a campaign to get the severity of the 10-year minimum life sentence given to Sgt Blackman was launched.
A Facebook page calling for his release had gained more than 17,500 likes within a day, while a second page launching a Downing Street e-petition had gained more than 4,000 likes.
Tory peer Lord Ashcroft said on Saturday that he would bankroll a campaign to reduce the sentence.