SAS hero wins fight to be at home with family but now he wants return to frontline
Sergeant Danny Nightingale was jailed for 18 months for illegally possessing a pistol and ammunitionAppeal Court reduced sentence to 12 months suspended – allowing him to return homeSoldier could be deployed to Helmand if he rejoins Duke of Lancashire's Regiment
08:53 GMT, 3 December 2012
SAS sniper Sergeant Danny Nightingale could be back on the Afghan frontline within months.
He is determined to return to the Special Forces regiment after winning a legal battle last week.
Sergeant Nightingale, 37, was freed by Appeal Court judges on Thursday after widespread outrage over an 18-month sentence for illegally possessing a pistol and ammunition.
Back together: Sergeant Danny Nightingale has returned home to his family in time for Christmas
To the frontline: But SAS soldier Danny Nightingale, pictured kissing his wife Sally after he was freed from prison, may be serving in Afghanistan within months
Campaign: Sally Nightingale, wife of soldier Danny Nightingale, outside the Royal Courts of Justice before handing in a petition for his release
The punishment was cut to 12 months and suspended, allowing him to return home.
He is now fighting to clear his name by overturning the conviction, while weighing up his military career options.
Sitting with his wife Sally, 38, and their two daughters Mara, five, and Alys, two, Sergeant Nightingale said: ‘I want to get my good name back and I want to return to my regiment.
‘I’m still proud to have been a member of the SAS. It has always been the pinnacle of my career.’
SAS soldier Sgt Danny Nightingale was jailed for illegal possession of a pistol he was gifted by Iraqi soldiers
He is expected to have talks with his commanders over the publicity surrounding his case.
The SAS is a notoriously secretive unit with members fiercely protecting their identities so they are not compromised on top secret operations.
Sergeant Nightingale’s name and face have been splashed across television screens, newspapers and websites.
Once a soldier is ‘outed’, their career with the elite regiment is almost certainly at an end. But Sergeant Nightingale could return to his old unit – the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment – for a two-month ‘cooling off’ period and he is trained as a combat medic.
If that happens he could be deployed to Helmand next March. However, if he fails to quash his conviction he could be discharged from the Army under the Queen’s Regulations.
Sergeant Nightingale, who has served with valour in Iraq and Afghanistan, was sent to a military prison in Colchester three weeks ago after pleading guilty to possessing a working 9mm Glock pistol and more than 300 rounds of ammunition at his quarters in Hereford.
The weapon was a souvenir from Iraqi soldiers but the SAS sniper forgot he had it when he suffered ‘significant’ brain damage after collapsing on a charity trek in the Brazilian jungle.
He admitted two charges at the court martial in November.
But his legal team argued at the Royal Courts of Justice in London that the ‘exemplary’ soldier was pressured into pleading guilty after the trial judge hinted he would receive five years in a civilian jail if he fought the case.
More than 107,000 signed a petition demanding his release and Prime Minister David Cameron expressed sympathy.
'Early Christmas present': Sgt Nightingale and his wife outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London, following his release
Devoted couple: SAS soldier Sgt Danny Nightingale pictured with his wife Sally on their wedding day, left, and at a Christmas ball in 2010, pictured right
Happy: Sgt Nightingale was given a hero's welcome after returning home
Speaking about his detention, Sergeant
Nighingale said: ‘I didn’t sleep for that first night. I laid awake
wondering how the children would cope, how my wife would manage on her
‘But I also realised I
had to be very professional. I did everything that was asked of me. I
mopped floors, stood to attention on parade, was always polite and
‘I offered my
services to help train some of the younger soldiers and I even taught a
young lad how to fire a pistol. I love training: I get a real kick out
of seeing people achieve goals.’
the public for their support, he said: ‘A pensioner sent a pound.
Another person sent a 3 postal order and they apologised for not giving
me any more – it was simply amazing.’
In the public eye: Danny Nightingale, wife Sally and their children Mara, five, and Alys, two, appeared together on Daybreak after his release
Relentless campaigning: Sgt Nightingale described his wife as a 'hero' and said they would continue to fight his conviction
Home for Christmas: The family thanked all their supporters and said they hoped to help others in similar situations in the future