Sergeant Danny Nightingale suffered such a brain trauma that he could be susceptible to “confabulating” or making up confessions, two psychologists told a court martial.
The SAS sniper's case became a cause celebre late last year when it emerged that he had been jailed for 18-months, for having an illegal weapon. A campaign by his wife Sally led to such a public outcry that the matter was raised in parliament and he was released after the Court of Appeal quashed his conviction.
While the 38-year-old initially told police the Glock 9mm pistol and rounds of ammunition found in his room while he was serving in Afghanistan were his, he now insists that he has no recollection of them and simply made a false confession due to memory loss sustained after collapsing during a jungle in Brazil in October 2009.
Clinical psychologists Dr Susan Young and Professor Gisli Gudjonsson both told a board at the Military Court Centre in Bulford that it was likely that Sgt Nightingale, in trying genuinely to be helpful, had “confabulated” or filled in the gaps with false versions of events due to a traumatic brain injury.
"I think his performance was genuine and he was trying very hard to do his best and he was struggling and no doubt he has serious memory problems and he was doing his best to compensate and carry on,” said Prof Gudjonsson.
Sgt Nightingale, of Crewe, Cheshire, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of possession of a prohibited firearm as well as 338 rounds of ammunition, which were discovered at the house he shared with another soldier in September 2011.