SAS man hugs his children and vows to clear his name

Sgt Danny Nightingale praises his wife, Sally, for her ‘courageous’ campaign to release him 

A day after he was dramatically  released from detention, Sergeant Danny Nightingale faces a battle to clear his name but he insisted he was simply happy to hug his children and humbled by the public support.

Only a week after the case of the SAS soldier given 18 months’ military detention for illegally possessing a pistol caused a furore in parliament and led to a petition signed by 107,000 people, the Court of Appeal reduced his sentence to 12 months suspended and released him.

Yesterday, Sgt Nightingale said he was “absolutely elated” to be able to return to his wife, Sally, and daughters Alys, two, and Mara, five, whose first request had been to ask him to tickle their feet. “The hugs were enough really, words weren’t needed,” said the 37-year-old, thanking his wife for her tireless campaign. “Without her this would never have started. She has been the catalyst – her courage, her dignity and maintaining her integrity the whole way through,” he told ITV.

But his wife insisted they still felt driven to clear his name, adding: “Danny has been used as a scapegoat and they chose the wrong person to do that to. There’s so many mitigating circumstances.”

His lawyer, Simon McKay, plans to take the unusual step of appealing against his conviction despite the fact he pleaded guilty at the court martial. Sgt Nightingale’s family insist he was “bullied” into an admission after being told he could face a five-year sentence if convicted but would be treated leniently if he admitted the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Mr McKay explained that the special forces soldier had pleaded guilty because he feared being separated from family.

“Sgt Nightingale’s strong belief was that if he pleaded not guilty and it went to trial and he was found guilty, he would get five years in jail. The appeal will be that the guilty plea was not a genuine reflection of his criminal culpability,” he said.

When Sgt Nightingale, a sniper and a medic, flew home with the bodies of two colleagues in 2007, a 9mm Glock pistol he had been given by an Iraqi soldier was packed up and shipped back among his kit.

It was left in storage before being transferred to his quarters. Sgt Nightingale who suffered brain damage and memory loss after collapsing during an endurance run, forgot about it. It remained undiscovered until police searched his quarters over an unrelated matter.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all