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  1. ITV Report

First day of freedom for SAS sniper jailed over pistol

Sgt Danny Nightingale and his wife Sally outside the Royal Courts of Justice. Photo: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

An SAS sniper from Cheshire jailed for illegally possessing a pistol and ammunition thanked the "great British public" after winning an appeal and walking free.

Father-of-two Sgt Danny Nightingale, 37, who lives near Crewe, said he had been "humbled" by public reaction to his plight. Today is his first full day of freedom.

He had been sentenced to 18 months' military detention earlier in November by a judge sitting in a military court after admitting illegally possessing a Glock 9mm pistol and more than 300 rounds of ammunition.

But three appeal judges concluded that the sentence was too harsh, after a hearing at the Court Martial Appeal Court in London.

They cut the term to 12 months, said it should be suspended, and ordered Sgt Nightingale's release.

Judges heard that more than 100,000 people signed a petition calling for Sgt Nightingale to be freed after his wife Sally, 38, and other family members launched a campaign.

And Sgt Nightingale said the level of public support had been "humbling" as he hugged Mrs Nightingale after being released. "Thank you to the great British public," he said. "They have been absolutely wonderful in their support. It has just been extremely humbling. Very, very humbling."

Mrs Nightingale said: "It can only be good for all the troops out there fighting for our country to see justice has been done."

Julian Brazier, MP for Canterbury and Whitstable, who has campaigned on behalf of Sgt Nightingale, welcomed his release. "I was delighted to hear the news," he said.

"While firearms offences are normally very serious, given the very unusual circumstances of the case, and Sgt Nightingale's remarkable record of service, the original sentence was a serious miscarriage of justice. I am delighted that Danny will be going home to his family for Christmas."

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