SAS sniper who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was convicted of offences at court martial in Wiltshire
The former SAS sniper Danny Nightingale has been found guilty of illegally possessing a pistol and ammunition.
Nightingale, 38, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was convicted of the offences at a court martial in Wiltshire.
The verdict is a relief for army prosecutors, who came under attack for continuing to pursue Nightingale after an earlier conviction for the same offences was overturned following a high-profile campaign.
It is a bitter blow for the soldier and father-of-two, who faces having to sell his family home to help pay for legal costs.
The court martial at Bulford camp heard that a Glock 9mm pistol and more than 300 rounds of ammunition were found in Nightingale’s bedroom in a house shared with a friend and SAS colleague, who can only be identified as Soldier N.
Nightingale was hauled back to the UK from Afghanistan, where he was serving, and told civilian police the pistol had been a present from Iraqis he had worked with in 2007.
He said he had carelessly stockpiled the ammunition while he worked as a range instructor for the SAS.
At his first court martial last year Nightingale said he could not actually remember being given the pistol, explaining that he had suffered memory loss following a serious illness during a jungle challenge.
But when it was suggested by the court that he could face five years in prison if he fought the charges he pleaded guilty – and was then shocked when he was given 18 months in military detention rather than the suspended sentence he was expecting.
His wife, Sally, and legal team launched a campaign to free him. The sentence was reduced and eventually quashed.
But the military prosecutors decided to order a fresh court martial even though Nightingale is being medically discharged early next year because of his mental problems.
During the latest hearing Nightingale claimed the pistol and ammunition must have belonged to Soldier N. His explanation about how he came by the gun and ammunition was put down to “confabulation” – an unconscious trick of the mind in which gaps are filled in with false memories.