Danny Nightingale trial: SAS sniper 'apologised over gun'

Duncan Kennedy reports: "He said he had 'fits' and was not in a good way"

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An SAS sniper originally apologised to police for having a pistol in his bedroom, a trial has heard.

Sgt Danny Nightingale, 38, denies illegally possessing a Glock 9mm pistol and 338 rounds of ammunition.

In his police interview videos, played to the court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire, Sgt Nightingale said he had intended to get the gun decommissioned.

However, he told the court on Friday he had no memory of receiving the weapon from an Iraqi national in 2007.

The father-of-two from Crewe, Cheshire, told the court martial he had not been given the pistol while on operations in Iraq.

He said he could not remember receiving it because of a brain injury he suffered in 2009 and "confabulated" and might have latched on to his housemate's explanations for how the items were found in his bedroom.

Sgt Nightingale also told the court he had not stored 338 rounds of ammunition under his bed, which were left over from training sessions.

William Clegg QC, defending, asked Sgt Nightingale to explain the account he gave to police in 2011 following a search of a house he shared with another SAS man, known as Soldier N.

'Very diligent individual'

"I have physical or tangible memory. I have no recollection of receiving the gun." Sgt Nightingale told the court martial.

"However, hindsight of seeing statements etc, I now know that Soldier N had told me that he had been given a pistol and that he had ammunition there.

"I have seen [my superior] and been told what is in the house and Soldier N said everything else in the house was his, bar what was in the bedroom.

Start Quote

I really assumed it must have been put there when I moved out of my mess in a great rush”

End Quote Sgt Nightingale

"I have always maintained that I am a very diligent individual and did not understand how it could be there."

Sgt Nightingale also said he appreciated he had a memory issue and it was feasible he "had received something".

He said: "The only time I had been in Iraq was 2007. The only way it could have come back, as I have no memory of it, would be in a box.

"That's the best I can explain for the gun."

Sgt Nightingale told the court he also had no memory of how the ammunition came to be found in a plastic box under his bed.

"It was my admin box where I would keep books, pencils. Therefore, I really assumed it must have been put there when I moved out of my mess in a great rush."

He admitted any ammunition should have been handed in.

'Two a collection'

Soldier N has previously admitted one of the two Glock pistols found in the house and much of the ammunition was his and is serving a two-year sentence.

Mr Clegg said Sgt Nightingale's earlier admission to police and in court last year when he pleaded guilty had been "false confessions".

Mr Clegg suggested Soldier N had brought the two Glock pistols into the UK after he returned from Iraq in 2003.

He told the court: "That two men, by chance, end up in the same quarters both having the very same type of weapon, the very same manufacturer and the very same calibre, the very same theatre of war, imported into that theatre in the same year and arriving wholly separately into the same house is incredible."

Mr Clegg said Soldier N had wanted to disassociate himself from the second pistol as having "one can be a souvenir; two begins to suggest a collection", he told the court martial.

Sgt Nightingale, whose regiment was listed as The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment (King's, Lancashire and Border), has pleaded not guilty to a charge of possession of a prohibited firearm - a Glock 9mm pistol - between November 26 2007 and September 16 2011.

He also denies possessing a range of different types of ammunition on or about 16 September 2011.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.

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