Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 12 December 2013


It was clearly wrong for the Royal Marine Sergeant to take the life of an Afghan prisoner in cold blood. It was inevitable once this was drawn to the attention of the authorities that he would and should be the subject of a court martial. This has happened throughout military history and in days gone by an offender of this kind would be hung or shot.

He had to be found guilty given the incriminating evidence. But from thereon I part company with the decisions of the court.

First of all, I do not believe that he should have been named. We know how dangerous some of these extremists we are fighting are and there must now be very real concerns about the safety of his family. Unfortunately that genie is out of the bottle and cannot be put back.

Second, I do not believe that the sentence handed down was a just sentence. Sentences are designed to have different components to them including deterrence, punishment and public protection; they are supposed to reflect the seriousness of the crime and be proportionate. Holding up that template to the decision of the court in this instance, can it really be argued that a life sentence with a minimum of ten years served is just?

Deterrence is served by a dishonourable discharge – it is unlikely that any young soldier looking in on all of this is likely to be tempted to repeat the same mistake.

This Royal Marine will have lost his job and his pension. Proportionality must surely take into account the battlefield conditions and the fact that just a few minutes earlier this victim was trying to kill him and his comrades. I have no doubt that this sergeant had witnessed some of his mates blown up and killed during this treacherous conflict.

This does not mean he should have been found not guilty, but should have been a substantial argument in mitigation. I would never dream to sit in judgement on someone who has experienced such traumatic circumstances.

Part of the point of imprisonment is to protect the public. Are any of us in danger from this man who had previously served his country so well, but had made a terrible instant decision that will blight the rest of his life?

The sentence was far too long and it does not surprise me that so many people have protested against it. I hope he wins on appeal.

posted by Gary @ 11:11