Sgt Danny Nightingale: Soldier 'had live ammunition'

Sgt Danny Nightingale The pistol was given to the soldier as a present, his supporters said

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An SAS soldier jailed for possessing a pistol he said was given to him as a "war gift" also had live ammunition, the BBC has learned.

Transcripts from the court martial seen by the BBC showed that in addition to the weapon, Sgt Danny Nightingale had about 300 rounds of ammunition.

Andy McNab, Chris Ryan and two other ex-SAS members have urged the prime minister to back calls to free him.

The soldier was detained for 18 months last week.

Lt Col Richard Williams, Col Tim Collins, Mr McNab and Mr Ryan have written to David Cameron about the case.

Their letter said Sgt Nightingale, from Crewe, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was a victim of a "monstrous miscarriage of justice".

'Organise funerals'

Sgt Nightingale's lawyers are appealing against the military detention sentence given to him after West Mercia Police found the pistol in his Hereford accommodation.

The case was then referred to the military police and he pleaded guilty at the court martial.

The transcripts showed that Sgt Nightingale had 122 live rounds of 9mm ammunition, 40 live rounds of 7.62 ammunition, 50 frangible rounds of 9mm ammunition, 50 live rounds of armour piecing ammunition, two live rounds of .308 ammunition and 74 live rounds of 5.56 ammunition in "a plastic box under the bed".

The pistol was found found in a wardrobe in a black case, according to the transcripts.

His lawyers and family said the 9mm Glock pistol, which was given to him as a gift by Iraqi soldiers he had been helping to train in 2009, was packed by colleagues for him after he had to leave Iraq quickly to help organise the funerals of two colleagues.

They said he later suffered brain damage during the year in which he had to wait to have his belongings returned and was unable to remember that the pistol was still among them.

They said he pleaded guilty to the charge after being warned by the judge in the case he could face five years' detention if found guilty in a trial.

'Completely disproportionate'

In the letter, published by The Sun on Wednesday, the four high-profile former SAS members demand immediate action from the prime minister, saying: "This shameful betrayal ruins 17 years of exemplary service - including 11 with the SAS.

"We say this prosecution should never have happened. Furthermore, we say he was bullied into a guilty plea.

"And lastly, we say the custodial sentence is completely disproportionate to the alleged crime."

They urge Mr Cameron to "exercise leadership and judgement" and release Sgt Nightingale on licence while the case is reviewed.

A Downing Street spokesman said the prime minister was aware of the case and would respond to the letter in "due course".‬

On Tuesday, MP Patrick Mercer said he had raised the issue with the defence secretary and had called for a "clear explanation" about what had happened, and "perhaps review the case".

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said it did not "ordinarily comment" on UK Special Forces and added it saw "no reason to change our policy on this occasion".

It added: "It would be wrong to comment on this courts martial case, its findings, convictions or sentences of the court which may be subject to appeal."

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