UK

SAS Sniper Danny Nightingale Has Conviction Over Handgun Quashed But Faces Retrial

13/03/2013 17:05 GMT

An SAS sniper has won an appeal against convictions for illegally possessing a pistol and ammunition.

Danny Nightingale, 38, of Crewe, Cheshire, was sentenced to 18 months' military detention by a judge sitting in a military court in November 2012 after admitting illegally possessing a Glock 9mm pistol and more than 300 rounds of ammunition.

danny nightingale trial

Sally and Danny Nightingale outside the Court of Appeal after his conviction was quashed

The Court of Appeal quashed the convictions on Wednesday and ordered a retrial after a hearing in London.

Lawyers had argued that Sergeant Nightingale had been placed under "improper pressure" to plead guilty at a military court trial and that his conviction was "unsafe".

The Court of Appeal had concluded at a hearing in late November that the sentence was too harsh.

At that hearing three appeal judges had cut the term to 12 months, said it should be suspended, and ordered Sergeant Nightingale's release.

Sergeant Nightingale said outside court: "I'm very relieved that the conviction has been quashed. Very relieved. Fantastic. We now have a retrial to face."

He said any decision on whether he returned to duty pending the retrial would be for the Ministry of Defence.

Sgt Nightingale's wife, Sally, added: "Mixed emotions. I'm relieved the convictions have been quashed. There has been ordered to be a retrial. It's still not over."

Appeal judges said the judge at Sgt Nightingale's military trial had given an "uninvited sentence indication".

They said that indication had "narrowed" Sgt Nightingale's freedom of choice when considering pleas to charges.

They said his guilty plea was therefore nullified and ordered a retrial.