Tag Archives: conviction

Sgt Nightingale – conviction quashed with a retrial directed

nightingale

The full facts are here.

The sentence appeal is here.

Sgt Nightingale appealed his conviction on the basis that his plea was entered as a result of pressure place upon him as a result of an indication of sentence – not requested – given by the Judge.

The transcript is available from CrimeLine here. Some edited sections are below:

“We agree with Mr David Perry QC that no criticism can be made of a judge seeking to make clear to himself, or seeking to clarify for his own purposes, the appropriate legal sentencing framework and to seek the assistance of one or both sides for such a purpose. If all that had happened was no more than an enquiry to discover the relevant sentencing parameters, there would be no ground for criticism.

However, in our judgment, from a reading of the relevant passage of the transcript it seems abundantly clear that the Judge Advocate gave an uninvited sentence indication.”

The Court felt that pressure was placed on Sgt Nightingale to plead guilty:

“As we see it, what was being conveyed was that the defendant would be looking at a sentence of, or close to, the minimum statutory term if the case was fought, and certainly no longer than two years (and probably shorter) if he pleaded guilty; and that if he pleaded guilty he would have the advantages of serving his sentence in military detention rather than a civilian prison and with the possibility (no more) that his military career could continue.”

Sgt Nightingale’s counsel in the Court Martial gave a statement saying:

“It was accordingly my duty to advise the appellant as to my understanding of what had transpired in court. I did so. What was very different following those remarks was that the court had made it plain that if the appellant fought the trial and lost he would lose the exceptional circumstances required to avoid a minimum five year sentence of imprisonment. The stakes were thus clarified.”

The situation was that Sgt Nightingale felt he had no option but to plead guilty. The Court said:

“Having reflected on the facts in this case, we conclude that the appellant’s freedom of choice was indeed improperly narrowed. Accordingly, the plea of guilty is in effect a nullity. It will be set aside. The conviction based on the plea will be quashed.”

“There is sufficient material here to require the issue to be considered fully. Accordingly, we shall order a trial to take place before a Court Martial on the basis of the present indictment.”

The conviction was quashed and a retrial in the Court Martial ordered. As ever, we will keep our ear to the ground and report back regarding the retrial.

Unfortunately, this tells us nothing as to what Sgt Nightingale’s defence will be at the Court Martial retrial. There is an interesting point in relation to guilty pleas entered on legal advice which may be the subject of a post at a later date.

Sgt Danny Nightingale conviction appeal hearing – 13 March 2013

 nightingale

Last year, the story of Sgt Danny Nightingale was all over the press. The background is briefly as follows:

Background facts

Sgt Nightingale has been a member of the armed forces for 17 years, with 11 of those spent in the SAS. Whilst in Iraq in 2007 he was given a weapon as a gift or ‘war trophy’ marking his ‘outstanding service’.

Sgt Nightingale returned to the UK after the deaths of two close colleagues and his belongings were shipped back to him by his colleagues. This included the weapon and ammunition, which were stored in a lockable box. The Court did not accept that Sgt Nightingale had forgotten about its existence completely, although due to other matters, they accepted that he ‘gave little or no weight to it’.

In 2009, Sgt Nightingale suffered serious injury which, it was accepted, affected his memory to some extent. By October 2010 however, he had recovered and was back on active service. In May 2010, the box containing the weapon was moved into the mess, and then in January 2011 into Sgt Nightingale’s home.

In mid-2011, he went on operations and placed the weapon in a cupboard and the ammunition underneath his bed. The Court considered that during this move Sgt Nightingale would have clearly recalled both the pistol and ammunition but no doubt placed it very low on his list of things to sort out due to being so busy (as a result of going on operations).

The court stated: ‘The court would not be doing its duty in relation to protection of the public at large if it did not bear in mind the potential grave consequences of your behaviour.’

Reference was made to the statutory minimum sentence of 5 years. The Court found exceptional circumstances which enabled them to impose a sentence below the statutory minimum. Sgt Nightingale was detained for 18 months.

History of the court hearings

We covered the Court Martial hearing here, where Sgt Nightingale pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months detention.

We reported the Court Martial Appeal Court judgement (sentence appeal) here, where the court reduced the sentence to one of 12 months suspended.

We examined that decision here.

Conviction appeal

Yesterday, Sgt Nightingale’s solicitor, Simon McKay (@SimonMcKay) confirmed that the appeal against conviction will be heard on 13 March, and will principally be based on the issue of Sgt Nightingale’s alleged equivocal plea:

Simon McKay tweet

We will cover the appeal and the decision on 13 March.

14 year old girl and 17 year old boy guilty of manslaughter

Junior

A 14 year old girl and her 17 year old boyfriend, neither of whom can be named, have been found guilty of manslaughter, having been found not guilty of murder.

Junior Nkwelle, aged 15, was playing football on a housing estate in Brixton, south London, in September 2012. He had been playing football with his friends when an argument broke out. The girl and her friends seem to have taken offence over something.

The girl then telephoned her boyfriend and told him to come to the estate to teach Junior a lesson. He travelled by bus and when he arrived, started fighting with Junior. He then stabbed Junior in the chest with a knife. The wound cut his heart and a lung. He died at the scene.

The court heard that Junior did not know either the boy or girl prior to the incident and that ‘there was no quarrel between them.’

It would appear that the manslaughter convictions are on the basis that there was no intention to kill or cause really serious injury, however there has been no confirmation of this.

The sentencing hearing is on 5 April. We will report the sentences imposed in due course.

The sentences imposed are likely to be custodial. Here is some for information on youth custodial sentences.

The BBC news reports are here and here.

Image taken from the BBC.