Sgt. Danny Nightingale served 17 years in Her Majesty’s service in the Royal Army. Included in those 17 years were 11 years as a sniper in the Special Air Service Regiment. He is now serving 18-months in Her Majesty’s Prisons for possession of a Glock that was given to him as a “war trophy” in Iraq which he intended to donate to the Regiment.
What makes this even more of an outrage is that Sgt. Nightingale suffers severe memory loss due to a brain injury suffered after he collapsed at charity event and went into a coma for three days. Given his memory loss, expert testimony at his trial stated he probably didn’t even realize he had it.
The Glock itself was in possessions that he had left in Iraq that were packed up for him by fellow troopers when he had to leave Iraq in a hurry after two friends were killed. He was detailed to accompany their bodies back to the UK. The pistol was originally shipped in a container to SAS HQ and then his possessions were sent to his home. It remained packed away until 2010 until it was discovered in a search of his living quarters. Police searched the quarters due to allegations made against his housemate by an estranged wife. Nightingale was not the subject of the search.
Sgt. Nightingale pled guilty to the charges when his attorney informed him he could be facing five years imprisonment. He had planned to fight the charges.
His commander and others are standing behind him.
Lt Col Richard Williams, who won a Military Cross in Afghanistan in 2001 and was Sgt Nightingale’s commanding officer in Iraq, said the sentence “clearly needed to be overturned immediately”.
He said: “His military career has been ruined and his wife and children face being evicted from their home — this is a total betrayal of a man who dedicated his life to the service of his country.”
Patrick Mercer, the Conservative MP for Newark and a former infantry officer, said he planned to take up the case with the Defence Secretary. Simon McKay, Sgt Nightingale’s lawyer, said: “On Remembrance Sunday, when the nation remembers its war heroes, my client — one of their number — is in a prison cell.
“I consider the sentence to be excessive and the basis of the guilty plea unsafe. It is a gross miscarriage of justice and grounds of appeal are already being prepared.”
Judge Advocate Alistair McGrigor, who presided over the court martial and sentenced Nightingale, had allowed the testimony about the memory loss to be entered but thought Nightingale knew he had the Glock in his possession.
As the British might say, bullocks.