Sealed with a hug from his ‘wife in a million’, Alexander Blackman finally savoured freedom yesterday.
The Royal Marine was reunited with Claire after 1,277 days behind bars and said: ‘She has saved me. Her determination to keep on fighting for me has been nothing short of incredible.’
Released from prison in the early hours of yesterday, he described waking up as a free man to the sound of ‘glorious birdsong’.
It was the moment the couple have dreamed of since the commando was jailed for life in December 2013 for shooting a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan.
Top brass and the Establishment left him to rot in prison but Sergeant Blackman – known as Marine A at his military trial – was saved by a campaign for justice spearheaded by his loyal wife.
Daily Mail readers raised £810,000 to fund a fresh legal challenge and last month he won a stunning victory at the Appeal Court which dramatically slashed his sentence.
Now released on licence from HMP Erlestoke Prison in Wiltshire – half way through his revised jail term – Sergeant Blackman, 42, said: ‘I will be eternally grateful to Claire and I cannot put into words how wonderful she is.
‘She is a wife in a million. Other inmates often said how lucky I was to have her fighting so hard for me.
'I don’t think there is anybody who has witnessed the effort she has gone to who will doubt how she feels about me, and that’s beyond words really. You just can’t imagine anyone cares for you that much.
‘I also want to thank the Daily Mail’s readers with all my heart. Without their amazing support, I would still be behind bars.’
Sgt Blackman added: ‘Being out of prison is an immense feeling, but I am very conscious that my sentence is not complete. I have been released on licence, and there are certain conditions which I must – and I will – respect.
‘But it is the little things I can enjoy. Suddenly I can sleep when I want, eat when I want, go for a walk... this freedom of choice over basic things is going to take some getting used to.’
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