29 Nov 2012

SAS soldier Danny Nightingale released after winning appeal

SAS soldier Sgt Danny Nightingale, detained for having a pistol given to him as a present in Iraq,wins his appeal at the Court Martial Appeal Court in London.

Three judges – Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, Mr Justice Fulford and Mr Justice Bean – ruled that Sergeant Nightingale’s sentence should be reduced to 12 months and suspended.

On hearing the verdict of the court, his wife Sally Nightingale wept, only able to nod to agree that she was “thrilled”. Sergeant Nightingale hugged his wife and father after walking free from the cells at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Mrs Nightingale who led a vocal public campaign to have his case re-examined. One of several e-petitions calling for his release collected over 100,000 signatures.

Sergeant Danny Nightingale was sentenced to 18 months in military detention in Colchester in October, after a pistol was found in his military accommodation. Illegal ownership of handguns is a criminal offence. Speaking to Channel 4 News from prison on Tuesday, Sergeant Nightingale said “I’ve been betrayed”, but added that although he felt he had been let down by the system, he had been overwhelmed by the support he had received from the public.

Memory loss

The weapon found in Sergeant Nightingale’s accommodation – a 9mm glock – had been given to him by a group of Iraqi soldiers he helped train in 2007. Sergeant Nightingale was planning to pass on the pistol to his SAS regiment as a trophy.

He’d been given it in 2007 by the Iraqi army. When he returned to Britain in a hurry, colleagues packed it up with his other equipment. A couple of years later, he took part in a charity run in Brazil – but collapsed and suffered brain damage and memory loss.

Then two years ago, Sergeant Nightingale – now recovered – moved into an army house with a fellow soldier, in preparation for being sent to Afghanistan. The Glock – still packed alongside his other kit, went with him. But because of his brain injury he says he forgot he had it.

While the two men were in Afghanistan, his housemate’s wife complained to police that she was a victim of domestic violence. She told police that her husband kept ammunition. They searched the military accomodation and found Seargeant Nightingale’s gun.