British appeals court frees army sergeant

Dec. 1, 2012 at 12:21 AM

LONDON, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- A British court has freed a sergeant in the elite Special Air Service who was sentenced to 18 months for bringing a weapon home from Iraq.

After the Court of Appeal suspended his sentence Thursday, Sgt. Danny Nightingale thanked his wife, Sally, The Daily Telegraph reported. He held his two young daughters as he spoke to reporters.

"She has done wonders," he said. "I think common sense prevailed really and also the amount of support that has been shown by everyone. Sally is a hero in this, along with the public."

Nightingale, who has served in the British army for 17 years, entered a guilty plea to possession of an illegal weapon and ammunition. He had expected to receive a non-custodial sentence.

After he was jailed in a military detention center, Sally Nightingale organized a petition drive and gathered more than 100,000 signatures. She also made a direct appeal to Prime Minister David Cameron.

The appeals court reduced the sentence to 12 months suspended and allowed Nightingale to appeal to reverse his conviction.

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