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  1. ITV Report

Judge hearing appeal of British men in Indian prison on weapon offences 'steps down' claiming it is 'too complicated'

The three men from our region detained in India Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

After months of waiting the families of six British ex servicemen men jailed in India on weapons offences say the judge hearing their appeal has now stepped down from the case saying it's too complicated for him to rule on.

The six include Nick Dunn from Ashington, Paul Towers from near York, and Nicholas Simpson from Catterick, who were all arrested by the Indian coastguard for illegally possessing firearms while working as security guards on an anti-piracy ship.

They insist they're innocent and had the proper paperwork.

Joanne Thomlinson, sister of John Armstrong - from Cumbria, said:

The judge who heard the original appeal has now stepped aside in open court from the case.

The appeal will now need to be reheard.

The judge was under increasing pressure to deliver a verdict and said the issues involved were too complicated for him.

The case will now be heard by a new judge."

– Joanne Thomlinson

The three men from our region are:

  • Nick Dunn from Ashington.
Nick Dunn Credit: ITV Tyne Tees
  • Nicholas Simpson from Catterick.
Nicholas Simpson Credit: ITV Tyne Tees
  • Paul Towers from York
Paul Towers Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

All had been working for US maritime company AdvanFort providing anti-piracy protection when their ship, MV Seaman Guard Ohio, was detained and weapons found.

They were arrested in October 2013 on illegal weapons charges.

The charges were dropped in the following months, but an appeal followed from the Indian authorities and in 2016 they were convicted and sentenced to five years in jail.

The men have always protested their innocence and appealed against the charges, maintaining they held appropriate licences for the weapons.