SAS man Danny Nightingale sentenced for gun possession
- 25 July 2013
- From the section England
SAS sniper Danny Nightingale has been given a suspended sentence by a military court for illegal possession of a pistol and ammunition.
It is the second time the 38-year-old has been sentenced - his original conviction was overturned on appeal.
Nightingale, from Crewe was given two years' detention suspended for 12 months at a court martial in Wiltshire.
The judge said he would have jailed Nightingale but felt constrained by the previous appeal court decisions.
Nightingale was convicted at his retrial earlier this month.
His original conviction for possessing the Glock 9mm pistol and 338 rounds of ammunition in his accommodation, near the SAS's Hereford headquarters, had been overturned on the basis he had been placed under "improper pressure" to plead guilty.
He was originally ordered to serve 18 months in military detention after pleading guilty in November 2012.
At his retrial Nightingale was sentenced to two years for possession of the pistol and nine months for possession of the ammunition - a total of two years to run concurrently.
In 2011, civilian police found the pistol in Nightingale's wardrobe and ammunition under his bed in a plastic box.
The court heard during the retrial that he had no knowledge of them being there and said someone else had put them there.
On sentencing Nightingale, Judge Jeff Blackett, Judge Advocate General, said: "Having heard all of the evidence... the court was sure that you did know the weapon and ammunition were in your room and how they got there."
Speaking outside the military court Nightingale's wife Sally said: "He'd like to say thank you for all the support.
"We could never imagine the support we've been given... but he's feeling hurt."
'Kick in the teeth'
Nightingale's father, Humphrey Nightingale, said: "We are all very emotional.
"We are not coming out of here with a good feeling at all. When we had to listen to what was said earlier that was like a kick in the teeth to every one of us."
Judge Blackett, who sat with a five-person board, said that if it was not for the Court of Appeal's previous decisions, Nightingale would be going to prison.
"In our opinion, the seriousness of this case does merit an immediate custodial sentence but we feel constrained by the decision of their Lordships," he said.
"In those circumstances, we have decided that the sentences passed should both be suspended for a period of 12 months."
The hearing was told that Nightingale and his family, who were all present, had spent about £120,000 trying to clear his name.
The soldier, who served in the army for 18 years, is to be medically discharged from February 14 next year.