More than 100,000 people have signed a petition to free the jailed British special forces soldier put in prison for keeping a handgun from the Falklands war as a trophy.
Newspapers, family, friends and former soldiers and members of the military have joined the call to free Albert Patterson (pictured above in his SAS days) who was sentenced to 15 months in prison for possessing a handgun. Handguns are illegal in the UK.
The former paratrooper and SAS man had taken the pistol from an Argentinian officer in the 1982 Falklands war between the UK and Argentina. He said that it was a reminder of the 22 SAS members who died during the conflict.
The 9mm weapon was unloaded and found with four other Enfield handguns and ammunition in 2014, apparently after the police were
After leaving the SAS Patterson (or “Pat” as he is known) served as a security consultant for private companies. Most recently working in Afghanistan to provide security for contractors building electricity and water supply systems.
The weapons were never loaded or used in the UK and were kept purely as a memento. The judge (Judge Christopher Plunkett) commended the former soldier for his work in the SAS but had no choice but to jail him.
However others have been spared prison and sent free for similar crimes.
Dale Robinson (28, above left) received a suspended sentence after admitting possessing a firearm at Northampton crown court.
He was accused by police of supplying weapons to drug dealers, but claimed that he was only a collector.
David Parsons (65, above right) was spared a jail sentence too after several guns were found at their home in Bournemouth. Parson’s son was a heroin addict and it is believed that the gun may allegedly have been his.
Military Chiefs and former soldiers condemn sentence
Former Chief of Defence and member of the SAS in the UK Field Marshal Sir Charles Guthrie said the sentence was “totally inappropriate”.
Lord West, former head of the British Royal Navy said:
“It does seem a harsh sentence for someone who is clearly not collecting weapons for use.
For someone who is not a present threat to society maybe a suspended sentence is better.”
Gulf war veteran John Nicol said:
“You see thugs, burglars and wife beaters getting away with almost no sentence. There needs to be flexibility and understanding.”
Colonel Richard kemp, former commander of UK forces in Afghanistan demanded his immediate release by saying:
“This is another example of our troops being persecuted by a government and courts obsessed with political correctness.
An SAS hero who risked his life to defend our country shouldn’t be treated like a south London drug dealer.
He should be freed immediately. The country should be grateful for what he did.”