Former SAS soldier Danny Nightingale, flanked by his wife
Sally and father Humphrey, speaks to the media after his
release, outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
A British elite special forces sniper, whose 18-month
jail sentence for possessing a pistol had caused public
outrage, walked free on Thursday after winning a legal appeal.
SAS Sergeant Danny Nightingale, 37, had admitted illegal
possession of a Glock 9 mm pistol and ammunition at a court
martial earlier this month.
But he maintained he was given the gun as a present in Iraq
and, because of a brain injury, forgot about it.
An appeal against the sentence, led by his wife Sally, had
attracted over 100,000 signatures and was backed by several
newspapers and Prime Minister David Cameron.
"Thank you to the great British public," Sergeant Nightingale
told reporters outside the Royal Courts of Justice after his
release. "It's been an extremely humbling experience."
His tearful wife Sally added she had not dared "dream this
would be the outcome."
"We got justice today," she said.
Lord Igor Judge ruled that while Nightingale had been found
guilty of very serious offences, he was satisfied the special
circumstances surrounding his military and medical history
called for a lesser sentence.
His court martial was told the gun had been packed up and
returned to Nightingale by colleagues after he had to leave
Iraq in a hurry for the funeral of two friends killed in
action, the Press Association reported.
The Court of Appeal heard how Nightingale had served in
extremely testing conditions in Iraq, fighting the enemy
every night and losing several colleagues in combat.
During his time in the SAS, he also put his medical and
explosives training to good effect by pioneering a new field
dressing based on an adhesive used to stick explosives to
"He has, in my opinion, saved many lives," his former
commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Williams, said
The Appeal Court judges ruled Nightingale's sentence should
be cut from 18 to 12 months and suspended. His conviction has
not been not quashed, but his wife Sally said they intend to
"fight it all the way."