PM expresses 'sympathy' for former SAS soldier imprisoned for firearm possession

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The Independent Online

A former SAS soldier sent to prison for possessing a gun and ammunition given to him as a present by Iraqi forces has said he has lost faith in the military justice system, and holds little hope in his appeal succeeding.

Sergeant Danny Nightingale will have his case heard by a court martial appeal court tomorrow, with support for him mounting among politicians and the media.

Claiming he had forgotten that he was in possession of the pistol and 300 rounds of live ammunition due to amnesia caused by a brain injury he suffered in 2009, Sgt Nightingale has been supported by the Defence Secretary Hammond Philip Hammond and seen the Prime Minister David Cameron express his "sympathy" for his situation.

He says he only pleaded guilty on the understanding that he would avoid a possible five-year sentence.

But speaking yesterday, he compared himself to an animal pacing up and down its cage in a zoo, saying he could not bear to hold any confidence in his chances of being released.

"If I go into it in an optimistic way, it'll be very hard to be told something I don't want to hear," he said in a phone call from his prison.

Speaking to Channel 4 News, he added that he was "putting up a barrier" to avoid the psychological torment that he would inevitably feel if he gave in to hope that he will be a free man only to then have that expectation dashed.

"I hold absolutely no faith in the military court martial system," said the 37-year-old, from Crewe in Cheshire.

Sgt Nightingale was found guilty of illegal possession of a 9mm Glock pistol and ammunition, found by police at his Hereford accommodation.