SAS Hero Jailed
An SAS soldier has been jailed for possessing a pistol given to him by the Iraqi Army for outstanding service.
Sgt Danny Nightingale, a member of the 22nd Special Air Service, was sentenced to 18 months detention following a court martial last week. He pleaded guilty to the illegal possession of a 9mm pistol in order to avoid a possible 5 year sentence, it has been reported.
Sgt Nightingale, a trained sniper and medic, was a member of Task Force Black, a special forces task force that operated in Iraq between 2003 and 2009. Task Force Black targeted Al Qaeda and insurgent forces in the country. Sgt Nightingale was said to have helped train an Iraqi counter terrorism unit, known as the Apostles, which worked alongside Task Force Black on operations. The Iraqi Army presented a fully working Glock 18 pistol to Sgt Nightingale to commemorate his outstanding service.
When in 2007, two close friends in the Regiment were killed in a helicopter crash, Sgt Nightingale flew back to the UK with the bodies to help arrange their funerals. Colleagues in Iraq packed the Glock pistol, along with his other belongings in a crate which was then transported to SAS HQ in Credenhill. It was said that Sgt Nightingale planned to have the pistol decommissioned and turned into a "war trophy" for placement on the SAS sergeant's mess wall.
In 2009, Sgt Nightingale, now part of the SAS selection staff, collapsed while on a 200 mile trek in Belize. He fell into a coma which lasted 3 days. He recovered but was said to have suffered severe memory loss.
In 2010, Sgt Nightingale was assigned to the SAS counter terrorist team. Needing to be on call at short notice, he moved into shared accommodation with another soldier close to SAS HQ. It was during this time that his belongings, including the Glock pistol, where moved from his secure 'cage' at SAS HQ to his house.
Sgt Nightingale was posted to Afghanistan in 2011. While there, the police raided the shared house, on a matter related to a domestic dispute between his house mate and his house mate's ex-partner. Having been told there might be a cache of ammunition on the property, the police searched it and discovered the Glock pistol, still stored, unopened, in its transport container. The police referred the incident to the Royal Military Police who proceeded to press charges.
During his subsequent court martial, the court heard from several expert witnesses who testified that Sgt Nightingales may have forgotten he still had the pistol due to the memory loss suffered from being in a coma. The judge, however, did not accept that Sgt Nightingale had forgotten he had the pistol. Sgt Nightingale was sentenced to 18 months in the Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester.
There has been widespread anger at the harshness of the sentence, especially considering the mitigating factor of Sgt Nightingales memory loss. Sgt Nightingale's military career has been ruined and his pay stopped, leaving his family at risk of not being able to pay the mortgage on their home. The family were so outraged that they took the unusual step of revealing Sgt Nightingale's identity in order to publicise the case.
more info / further reading:
- SAS war hero jailed after 'betrayal'
- 'My SAS hero has been betrayed': Wife's torment after special forces husband is JAILED for 'illegally possessing' pistol given to him by Iraqis for outstanding service
(the daily mail)