SAS sniper Danny Nightingale to face retrial

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Media captionSgt Danny Nightingale and his wife Sally express disappointment at the news of a retrial

An SAS sniper who was charged with illegally possessing a pistol and ammunition is to face a retrial.

Sgt Danny Nightingale, from Crewe, had admitted possessing a 9mm Glock pistol and ammunition at his court martial in November.

His military detention sentence was overturned at the Court of Appeal in March.

A judge ordered the retrial at a hearing at the Military Court Centre in Bulford, Wiltshire.

Judge Advocate Jeff Blackett said there was no abuse of process relating to the content of emails apparently leaked by a Ministry of Defence source, which were referred to for the first time at the hearing.

Lives 'on hold'

Counsel for Sgt Nightingale, Simon McKay, said the emails appeared to show the Director of Service Prosecutions consulting the military "chain of command" - the Adjutant General's office - on whether or not to pursue the case against the soldier.

But Judge Blackett said he was satisfied a retrial was in the public interest.

The pistol and more than 300 rounds of ammunition were found by West Mercia Police at Sgt Nightingale's Hereford accommodation.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges of illegally possessing the gun and ammunition.

Outside court, Sgt Nightingale said: "I wouldn't wish what we've been through on anyone's family. It's been very hard."

His wife Sally said the lives of their whole family had been "on hold" during the process.

"Everything is consumed by this case. We have all struggled through it."

Mrs Nightingale said the family were "disappointed" with the news that there would have to be a retrial.

She said: "We would've liked it to be over today - but it gives us the chance to have a fair hearing. We've got to be positive and move forward."

Sgt Nightingale said he had "more confidence" in facing this trial than the previous one.

He added: "We will continue to fight."

The sniper had been serving his sentence at the Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester, Essex, prior to his release last year.

A special debate was held in the House of Commons in November where MPs criticised the original conviction which had led to an 18-month sentence. The sentence was later reduced to 12 months and suspended by the Court of Appeal.

More than 35,000 people signed a petition calling for the case to be reviewed.

The trial of the 38-year-old, from the Duke of Lancaster Regiment, is expected to start on 1 July.

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