Mar 13 2013
An SAS sniper jailed for illegally possessing a pistol and ammunition said he is hopeful of persuading the Court of Appeal to overturn his convictions.
Sergeant Danny Nightingale, of Crewe, Cheshire, was sentenced to 18 months' military detention by a judge sitting in a military court in early November 2012 - after admitting illegally possessing a Glock 9mm pistol and more than 300 rounds of ammunition.
The Court of Appeal concluded in late November that the sentence was too harsh. Three appeal judges cut the term to 12 months, said it should be suspended, and ordered Sgt Nightingale's release.
Lawyers representing Sgt Nightingale - who is in his late 30s - will now try to quash his convictions at another Court of Appeal hearing in London.
"I'm hopeful," said Sgt Nightingale, as he arrived for the hearing. "Always hopeful."
At the November appeal hearing, lawyers said Sgt Nightingale had pleaded guilty because he thought that any sentence would be suspended. But prosecutors argued that the convictions were "not unsafe" and should not be overturned.
The three appeal judges were told that the gun had been a gift from Iraqi special forces soldiers Sgt Nightingale trained and that he planned to have the weapon decommissioned and keep it as a trophy.
But, lawyers said, he appeared to have put it in a cupboard in Army accommodation in Hereford on a "very hectic day" while preparing to deploy to Afghanistan.
Sgt Nightingale, whose accommodation was not on the SAS base at Hereford, said he had not "appreciated" that he had the weapon.
Judges were told that Sgt Nightingale had suffered medical problems which had affected his memory.