UK & World News

  • 1 December 2012, 5:43

Freed SAS Sniper 'To Fight On' After Homecoming

An SAS sniper who was jailed for illegally keeping weapons has received a welcome home party after he was freed on appeal.

Sergeant Danny Nightingale, 37, arrived back at his home in Crewe, Cheshire, carrying one of his young children, and accompanied by his wife Sally.

He was greeted by loud cheers from neighbours and well-wishers and a "Welcome Back" banner.

He told Sky News he was feeling "emotional and grateful" and was looking forward to a weekend of "chilling" with his family.

Sgt Nightingale was originally given 18 months' military detention for illegally possessing a pistol and ammunition.

But three appeal judges yesterday concluded the sentence was too harsh and cut the term to 12 months. They said the sentence should be suspended and ordered Sgt Nightingale's release.

Despite describing the prospect of being home with his family as an "early Christmas present", the father-of-two said he will continue to appeal against the conviction.

Sgt Nightingale said the hardest part of being locked up was not knowing the "end date" and when he could return to his family - unlike when away on SAS operations.

"This was a totally unknown entity really and it came as a big surprise. I managed to get a lot of letters in there, which was amazing."

He said he had received letters from people across the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, and had so far replied to 351.

Sgt Nightingale said he had been treated "very well" in detention at Colchester Military Corrective Training Centre and praised the staff for their professionalism.

He was handed his sentence after admitting illegally possessing a Glock 9mm pistol and more than 300 rounds of ammunition.

He claimed he could not remember having the pistol - given as a gift after serving in Iraq - due to a brain injury which had affected his memory.

Judges heard that more than 100,000 people signed a petition calling for Sgt Nightingale to be freed after his wife launched a campaign.

The case attracted support from politicians as well as the press and general public.

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