SAS sniper to meet lawyers in legal bid

Sgt Danny Nightingale with his wife Sally after he was released from jail Photo: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

A Cheshire SAS sniper released from jail after a court appeal will mark his 38th birthday with his first meeting of the new year with lawyers as he continues the battle to overturn his conviction.

Sergeant Danny Nightingale was jailed for 18 months in November for illegally possessing a pistol and ammunition but was released from military detention three weeks later after appealing against his sentence.

The father of two, from Crewe, spent Christmas at home with wife Sally and daughters Mara, five, and Alys, two. But the new year will see him continue the fight to clear his name as he and his legal team embark on a bid to get his conviction overturned.

Wife Sally, 38, said: "Danny turns 38 on January 3, the same day he has his first meeting with Simon McKay and William Clegg QC his barrister. I think we have already got the wheels in motion in putting things together, but that's his first meeting."

No date has been set yet for a court hearing, but Mrs Nightingale said despite her husband's release the family remain keen to clear his name.

"At the end of the day it's fantastic that Danny has been released and is at home and he should be, but we do need to clear his name.

"He has been used as a scapegoat for a failing system, so why should he have a criminal conviction hanging over him? He served the country for 17 years so I think he deserves to have his name cleared."

The SAS sniper was released from military detention on November 30 after three appeal judges overturned his sentence. The move came after a nationwide campaign for the long-serving soldier's release.

Sgt Nightingale's lawyers had argued he only pleaded guilty to possessing the Glock 9mm pistol - a gift after he served in Iraq - because he was led to believe he would get a lenient sentence. He claimed he could not remember having the pistol due to a brain injury that affected his memory.

Judges concluded the sentence was too harsh and cut the term to 12 months, saying it should be suspended, prompting the 37-year-old's immediate release.