UK & World News
Nightingale: Jailed SAS Sniper Walks Free
Jailed SAS sniper Danny Nightingale has walked free from court after his sentence was suspended following a successful appeal.
Sergeant Nightingale was given 18 months military detention earlier this month after he admitted illegally possessing a Glock 9mm pistol and more than 300 rounds of ammunition.
Now judges at the Court Martial Appeal Court in London have cut the term to 12 months and said it should be suspended. They said he could be released immediately.
Speaking outside court, 37-year-old Sgt Nightingale thanked his wife and backers for their "trust and support".
The father-of-two also thanked the "great British public" and said he had been "humbled" by the reaction to his plight.
His wife Sally, 38, said she was "very, very happy" and "delighted".
Mrs Nightingale, who earlier wept at the judges' verdict, said: "We fought for this for the last three weeks and we got justice today and I thank everybody in that court and the public."
She went on: "It can only be good for all the troops out there fighting for our country to see justice has been done."
When asked if she would fight her husband's conviction, Mrs Nightingale said: "Yes, we are going all the way."
Judges heard that more than 100,000 people signed a petition calling for Sgt Nightingale to be released after his wife and other family members launched a campaign.
Wiping away tears, he hugged his wife and father Humphrey in the main hall of the building after walking free from the cells at the Royal Courts of Justice.
The sniper had admitted illegally possessing the gun and ammunition at a court martial and was sentenced by a judge sitting in a military court.
But three appeal judges - Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, Mr Justice Fulford and Mr Justice Bean - said he should be released.
The judges were told the gun had been a gift from Iraqi special forces soldiers Sgt Nightingale had trained, and that he planned to have the weapon decommissioned and keep it as a trophy.
They also heard Sgt Nightingale, who has suffered medical problems affecting his memory, appeared to have put the gun in a cupboard in his army accommodation in Hereford on a "very hectic day" when preparing to deploy to Afghanistan.
The serviceman, whose accommodation was not on the SAS base at Hereford, said he had not "appreciated" that he had the weapon.
Lawyers representing Sgt Nightingale accepted he had admitted "serious offences" which crossed the "custody threshold" but they asked the appeal judges to "temper justice with mercy".
Lord Judge - the most senior judge in England and Wales - said the appeal panel had concluded the case involved an exceptional person and exceptional circumstances and that the sentence could be reduced.
Reacting to his release, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "I am delighted for Sgt Nightingale and his family that he will be home not only before Christmas as they'd hoped, but by the end of November.
"The justice system has worked. I was pleased that an appeal was heard quickly and it is right that a court should decide on whether the sentence was appropriate. The Court of Appeal has decided the sentence was too harsh and has freed him."
Julian Brazier, MP for Canterbury and Whitstable, who has campaigned on behalf of Sgt Nightingale, also welcomed his release, saying: "I was delighted to hear the news."
He added: "While firearms offences are normally very serious, given the very unusual circumstances of the case, and Sgt Nightingale's remarkable record of service, the original sentence was a serious miscarriage of justice.
"I am delighted that Danny will be going home to his family for Christmas."
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what do you think?
Excellent result should not have been in jail in the first place.
Surely the illegal possession of a firearm given our gun laws is a punishable act?
stephen and dr monica, read the background to the story and you have your answer. and he has been punished, he got a suspended sentence. guess you two have never accidentally broken the law/
That's because I know the law haha. But in this instance he should've known the circumstances given his role. Seems odd. Previous good character has spared him.
:O)) a good man!!!
After he shot you he'd be a hero lol.
that dosnt go far enough he should be pardoned and reinstated into sas because he has a court marshall against him and it stinks.
I am very pleased to hear this. The sentence was excessive and made under the threat of a longer (5 years) sentence if he had not pleaded guilty. Seniot officers in the Army should hang theit heads in shame for allowing this travesty
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So this man, one of our countrys best ,makes a mistake and has to deal with this,its a bloody discrase, yet our mps can get away with almost anything and it be covered up,something is really wrong in this country, good look to him and his family, but someone should get the sack for this
Oh shut up christos.do u actually know the reasons of how he came to have it or read about this case at all.you make no sense with the majority of your comments and please learn how to spell
Given our stringent gun laws, the illegal possession of a glock with several rounds is punishable. I really do not understand the mode of thinking here. The law doesn't seem to universally apply which is rather disturbing.
When put like that Dr_Mon you're correct. However it seems this case really wasn't as simple as that. Besides the facts of this case he is a genuinely impressive man who's service, exceptional record and achievements must be taken into account. Google 'Nightingale dressing' and read the telegraph link...
Yes his previous good character may prevented him from jail. Ultimately what he did was wrong.
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Are you aware of all the facts of this case? Or basing your verdict of guilt on the above article only? Please read the link. Read about this guy, his life and what he has actually contributed to our society.
dr-monicak,for once the law has been applied with common sense and flexibility, taking into account all the circumstances of the offence. i can't believe you are condoning such rigidity that accidental criminals should be punished in the same way as those with intent to commit crime. can't wait until you're accidently up in court, lets hope it's life!
I'm not denying he's a good person however given his role he really should've known better. It's rather chilling to read someone wishing jail on someone
If you read the link you wouldn't be calling him simply a good man. And as you clearly have no interest in finding out the actual facts of this case you shouldn't be forming opinions on it.
I'm fully aware of the situation however the law applies to one and all. It's a logical fallacy to make crass assumptions
Stop thinking "law" and think "justice". Then maybe you will make more sense.
Mate this is 2012 and we've all grown up and EVOLVED into people who don't believe in silly stories about gods, go back to the dark ages where you belong and take your jc with ya.
common sense and flexibility in the legal system, was that a pig i just saw fly past? congrats to danny and his family.
Justice has been done
Justice - and the people of this nation - has been served. Thank God for common sense.
I am pleased for him and his family tonight, as I would be if I had been released in similar circumstances. I still maintain, though, that I also have an impeccable record, as most of us do, but would still be jailed for this crime. I can't think of any more frightening situation than such a weapon being in the hands of an SAS man with a brain injury. I don't either know that I wouldn't have unpacked belongings returned to me, either. Either way, the experts have clearly more information than me and so I think justice has been done.