AN SAS sniper freed from jail after a court appeal is “delighted and optimistic” after meeting his legal team to discuss the next step in the battle to clear his name, his lawyer said yesterday.
Sergeant Danny Nightingale was handed an 18-month custodial sentence in November for illegally possessing a pistol and ammunition but was released three weeks later after appealing against his sentence.
His family is hoping to also appeal against the conviction and clear his name, and on his 38th birthday the father of two met lawyers to discuss plans for the new appeal.
At the meeting in London, which Sgt Nightingale attended with his father Humphrey, the SAS sniper was told there was a “a high degree of confidence” his convictions would be quashed, his lawyer Simon McKay said yesterday.
Solicitor-advocate Mr McKay said: “We had a positive conference with William Clegg QC and I will now be taking steps to notify the Court of Appeal that my client wishes to proceed with his appeal against conviction.”
It is thought an appeal could be heard within the next 12 weeks.
Sgt Nightingale, from Crewe, Cheshire, was released from military detention on November 30 after his sentence was overturned.
His lawyers argued he 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.
Sgt Nightingale, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he did not remember having the pistol due to a brain injury that affected his memory.
His wife Sally gained nationwide support in her campaign for his release, including MPs and former SAS officers.
Judges concluded the original 18-month sentence was too harsh and cut the term to 12 months, saying it should be suspended, prompting Sgt Nightingale’s immediate release.
Mr McKay yesterday said permission was also granted at that stage for Sgt Nightingale to challenge his conviction. He said he will be seeking clarification of whether military prosecutors will ask for a retrial if Sgt Nightingale’s appeal succeeds.